Sylvan signs to develop tests in China Company to put examination centers throughout nation

'Significant step' for firm

Computerized service may be in hundreds of classrooms


October 10, 1997|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

Baltimore-based Sylvan Learning Systems Inc. is taking its computerized educational testing services to China.

The company announced yesterday the signing of an agreement in Beijing with China's National Education Examinations Authority to develop a network of testing centers throughout the country and to administer computer-based testing services.

Vickie Glazer, a spokeswoman for Sylvan, said that it is too soon to estimate the value of the contract.

But, she said, it would probably include hundreds of centers across China, but the exact number probably won't be known until early 1998.

Glazer said it was Sylvan's first contract with China, "and it is fair to say this represents a significant step in our international expansion."

The centers will provide computerized testing, including the mandatory test of English as a foreign language, to Chinese students enrolling in U.S. universities.

"This is a significant expansion of Sylvan's testing franchise," said Michael T. Moe, an analyst who follows the company for Montgomery Securities in San Francisco.

"There are a lot of Chinese, more than 1 billion. And at any one time there are about 44,000 of them attending U.S. universities."

Moe said that Sylvan has created a national brand name in education and is rapidly becoming recognized around the world.

Sylvan operates 470 learning and testing centers on six continents.

The contract-signing ceremony included officials from the U.S. Department of Commerce, China's national education system and R. Christopher Hoehn-Saric, chairman and co-chief executive of Sylvan.

Hoehn-Saric said the contract marks an important milestone in Sylvan's global expansion as well as an advancement in relations with China.

He estimated that the presence of Chinese students in the United States adds more than $700 million and 24,000 jobs to the U.S. economy.

Glazer said the test centers will resemble college classrooms filled with computers. She said the computers will take the place of pencil-and-paper tests.

With computer testing, she said, "students can come and go as they please and take the test according to their schedules."

Sylvan's latest contract did not excite Wall Street. The company stock closed yesterday at $44, down 87.5 cents.

Pub Date: 10/10/97

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