Stanley H. Kaplan, Founder of the Test Preparation Industry, Dies at 90
August 23, 2009
New York, NY – Stanley H. Kaplan, founder and former chairman of Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Centers, Ltd. (now Kaplan, Inc.) died on August 23, 2009 at age 90. Considered the father of the test preparation industry, Stanley H. Kaplan founded the nation’s first and largest test preparation business in 1938. The small company he began in the basement of his parents’ Brooklyn home became a nationally recognized brand name synonymous with test preparation. He is credited not only with creating an industry, but also with starting one of the country’s first and largest for-profit education companies. Stanley H. Kaplan remained with the company that bore his name until his retirement in 1994.
Rejected from medical school during an era of ethnic quotas, Mr. Kaplan believed that students should have access to higher education based on academic merit, rather than privilege. In the 1940s, he embraced the SAT and other admissions tests as opportunities for students to prove themselves in the admissions process and dedicated his career to helping students excel on these important exams.
Among his many accomplishments was the recognition that, contrary to test makers’ claims, preparation from companies such as Kaplan could in fact improve students’ scores on the SAT and other admissions tests. The Federal Trade Commission came to such a conclusion in 1975 after a thorough investigation of Kaplan’s business practices.
A noted philanthropist, Mr. Kaplan leveraged his success in business to generously support programs and causes. Following the sale of his business to The Washington Post Company in 1984, he and his wife Rita established the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation to provide funding for many causes including education, health care, arts and Jewish programs. Mr. Kaplan’s commitment to the advancement of cancer research and treatment led to the creation of the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Comprehensive Cancer Center at New York University Hospital. A lifelong lover of the arts, Mr. Kaplan later established the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse at Lincoln Center. Through their Foundation, Mr. Kaplan and his wife gave generously to such organizations as Bellevue Hospital Center, the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, the Jewish Museum and the City College of New York. Mr. Kaplan’s career also included service on the Boards of Directors of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Brooklyn Academy of Music, City College of New York, NYU Medical Center, City Parks Foundation, and Ben Gurion University in Tel Aviv.
Mr. Kaplan was born in New York City in 1919 and grew up in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. At age 14, he received his first paid job tutoring other students, earning 25 cents an hour. At age 16, he entered City College of New York and continued to tutor professionally. After graduating from City College, he started his tutoring business in the basement of his parents’ home. In 1946, a student Mr. Kaplan was tutoring asked him if he could help her study for a college admissions test called the Scholastic Aptitude Test (the name was subsequently changed to the Scholastic Assessment Test and is commonly referred to as the SAT).
His introduction to the SAT ignited a half-century-long love affair with a test that would eventually lead him to expand his modest home business into an international enterprise of private education.
A teacher at heart, Mr. Kaplan seized opportunities to expand his business to meet growing demand. By the 1960s, as admissions tests for graduate schools came into widespread use, he expanded his classes to serve students preparing for law school, business school and medical school. When he discovered that one of his students was flying from the University of California at Berkeley to attend his classes in New York, he expanded nationally. The first center outside of New York opened in Philadelphia in 1970, followed by others soon after in Washington, DC; Boston; Chicago; Los Angeles; and Miami. By 1975, Mr. Kaplan had opened test preparation centers in 23 cities from coast to coast.
By 1984, Kaplan had expanded to more than 100 centers nationally with about 600 part-time satellite offices serving 95,000 students a year. In 1984, The Washington Post Company purchased Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Centers, Ltd. and Mr. Kaplan remained with the company for the next 10 years.
After retiring in 1994, Mr. Kaplan served as the President and Director of the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation. He published his biography Stanley H. Kaplan Test Pilot: How I Broke Testing Barriers for Millions of Student and Caused a Sonic Boom in the Business of Education (Simon & Schuster) in 2001.
Mr. Kaplan is survived by his wife Rita J. Kaplan, daughters Susan B. Kaplan and Nancy Kaplan Belsky; son-in-law Mark Belsky and grandchildren, Scott Kaplan Belsky and his wife Erica Roizen, Julie Kaplan Belsky and Gila Kaplan Belsky. In addition, he leaves step grand-children Stephen, Cherrie, Douglas and Tracey. He is also survived by his sister Rosalie Sporn and sister-in-law Beatrice Kaplan.
The family requests that donations be made to the following organizations:
The City College of New York
Designated to: The Stanley H. Kaplan Institute for the Advancement of Mathematics Education in Middle Schools
160 Convent Avenue, S-154
New York, NY 10031
Jewish Theological Seminary
Designated to: Paul A. Kaplan Clinical Pastoral Counseling Program
New York, NY 10027
NYU Langone Medical Center
Designated to: Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Stem Cell/Bone Marrow Transplant Center
One Park Avenue, 17th Floor
New York, NY 10016
About the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation, Inc.
The Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation, Inc. is a private, non-operating foundation dedicated to enhancing the continuity of the Jewish people and to supporting programs in the fields of health, medical research, education, the arts, and social justice/social welfare.About Kaplan, Inc.
Kaplan, Inc. is a leading international provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Kaplan serves students of all ages through a wide array of offerings including higher education, test preparation, professional training and programs for kids and schools. Kaplan, which had 2008 revenue of $2.3 billion, is a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO – News) and its largest and fastest-growing division. For more information, please visit www.kaplan.com.
Kaplan is the largest revenue producer and fastest-growing business unit of The Washington Post Company. It remains a pioneering force in for-profit education and is a leading international provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses.
For more information about Stanley H. Kaplan or Kaplan, Inc., please contact:
Gali Cooks, Executive Director, Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation, Inc.
Office: 212-688-1047 ext. 1