The Psychological Corporation and Harcourt Brace

This information has been compiled by Jeanne Donovan of the Texas Education Consumers Association.  Footnotes have been added.

The SAT (Standardized Achievement Test), the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS), and other state assessments, are written by The Psychological Corporation (PC) and are aligned with national standards.  The Psychological Corporation is a subsidiary of Harcourt Brace (now under the umbrella of Harcourt General, Inc.).  Harcourt Brace was purchased by General Cinema Corporation (now known as GC Companies, Inc.).  A historical background is below.

At least on the surface, it looks like media moguls own the company that writes our school assessments; they also own the company that produces our textbooks.  This raises a few questions in my mind:

*       Anything wrong with this picture?

*       Anything wrong with my reading of the historical data?

*       Anything wrong with the idea of school assessments being written by psychologists and pedagogical specialists, rather than subject specialists?

*       Any potential for manipulation of populations' attitudes, values, and beliefs?

Does anyone know if Marc Tucker or other education gurus are on the boards of these companies, or are major stockholders? [1]


The Psychological Corporation in San Antonio is a subsidiary of Harcourt Brace.  Here is a synopsis of their company history:

The Psychological Corporation

Harcourt Brace


*       a subsidiary of Harcourt, the nation's largest publisher of books and other materials for education, medicine, and academic/research specialty areas

*       founded in New York City in 1921 by three eminent psychologists:  James McKeen Cattell, Robert Sessions Woodworth, and Edward Lee Thorndike [2]

*       Harcourt purchased The Psychological Corporation in 1974, adding educational tests to product line

*       1983 — PC moved from New York to Cleveland, Ohio

*       1983 — PC moved to San Antonio

*       1991 — General Cinema Corporation (the fifth-largest theater chain in the United States) purchased parent company, known then as Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

*       1993 — General Cinema Corporation changes its name to Harcourt General, Inc., reflecting the importance of its recently acquired publishing operations.  Harcourt General spins off the General Cinema theatre operations to its shareholders but still maintains an ongoing relationship.  The newly created enterprise, GC Companies, Inc. lists on the New York Stock Exchange.

*       1994 — The Psychological Corporation acquired Communication Skill Builders, Inc. (CSB).  CSB develops and markets therapy products for use by speech and language professionals based in schools and health-care institutions

*       1995 — Assessment Systems, Inc. (ASI) was acquired as a subsidiary of The Psychological Corporation.  ASI in Pennsylvania is the nation's leading provider of computer-delivered licensing and credentialing examinations and related information services

*       1997 — Harcourt General expands its publishing operations with the acquisition of National Education Corporation (NEC) for $740 million in cash.  The NEC businesses establish Harcourt Brace as a dominant player in three new fast-growing segments of the education marketplace.  (Securities and Exchange Commission report)

*       1999 — Harcourt Brace & Co. changed its name to Harcourt, Inc. as part of its rebranding project to create a leading educational brand serving people of all ages, anytime, anywhere.


[1]  The News Standards Project, establishing assessment tools to be used nation-wide by those states and school districts that are part of the National Alliance for Restructuring Education design team (under the New American Schools Development Corporation), holds a contract with Harcourt Brace for the establishment of those assessment tools.  Both the New Standards Project and the National Alliance for Restructuring Education design team are owned by National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), Marc Tucker president.  NCEE was formerly Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy. [Back]

[2]  These men were associated with Columbia University of New York. [Back]