Entries in Educational Testing Service (2)


SAT Cheating Ring Widens on Long Island

Hemera/Thinkstock(LONG ISLAND, N.Y.) -- The investigation of an alleged SAT cheating ring that saw the arrest of seven students in September has widened to include five Long Island, N.Y., schools and as many as 20 students suspected of defrauding college admissions exams.

Between 11 and 13 students are expected to turn themselves in Tuesday at the Nassau County District Attorney's office to face charges that they cheated on the SAT and ACT exams, according to D.A. spokesman John Byrne.

The charges follow the September bust of a ring allegedly led by college student Sam Eshaghoff, who prosecutors say charged $1,500 to $2,500 to take the tests for younger students.

Byrne said the county identified at least 35 additional students since September who allegedly either paid for someone else to take their entrance exam or were paid by students to take the exam in their stead. The statute of limitations, however, prevents them from prosecuting about 15 of those students, he said.

The remaining students could be prosecuted on felony charges if they took the test for money for a student, in the process falsifying business records and identification documents. The students that paid for the service will face misdeameanors.

Tom Ewing, spokesman for Educational Testing Services, which creates the tests and administers the security protocol for the SAT, said that cheating rings for profit on the SAT are unusual, though each year they do have instances of individual students impersonating one another for the test.

In 2011, 138 scores were canceled after ETS concluded individuals had cheated on the exam. More than two million take the test each year, according to the College Board website.

Nassau County prosecutors, however, contend that more should be done to stop the cheating than simply canceling a student's scores. Byrne said Monday that the district attorney was not interested in criminally prosecuting every student caught cheating, but current practices by the ETS and confusion in legislation governing instances of cheating has lead to a lack of accountability on the part of cheaters. The DA's office hopes for a change in legislation, the spokesman said.

In Nassau County in September, District Attorney Kathleen M. Rice decided it was time to prosecute. Eshaghoff, a college student at Emory University, was charged with taking the SAT for at least six students in exchange for money. The students, who were also charged, all knew each other from Great Neck North High School on Long Island.

Now, students from Great Neck South, St. Mary's, Roslyn, and North Shore Hebrew Academy are expected to be charged.

Eshaghoff faces up to four years in prison on charges of scheme to defraud in the first degree, falsifying business records in the second degree and criminal impersonation in the second degree.

The students who allegedly paid for Eshaghoff to take their tests were charged with misdemeanors and face up to one year in jail.

Eshaghoff, who is also being investigated for impersonating additional students, will next appear in court on Nov. 28.

Rice, the Nassau County district attorney, has scheduled a news conference at noon Tuesday to discuss the new arrests.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


College Board Does Not Punish SAT Cheats

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An alleged SAT cheating ring was busted in Long Island, N.Y., after faculty members from the high school heard rumors that students had paid someone to take the test for them.

An investigation revealed that at least six high school students allegedly paid 19-year-old college student Sam Eshaghoff thousands of dollars to take the test, prosecutors said.

Eshaghoff is facing charges of scheming to defraud, falsifying business records and criminal impersonation. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison. The other six students are facing misdemeanor charges and have not been identified because of their ages.

But if the College Board, which owns the SAT, had determined that the cheaters did not violate the law, it is likely that the only consequence would have been a cancelled test score.

“If it comes to the point where we have determined that there was cheating or that the score was not valid, we cancel the score and we notify the colleges and universities that the score…cannot be used for admission purposes,” said Tom Ewing, a spokesman for Educational Testing Service, the company that designs and administers the SAT. "There will be a notification that the score was canceled, but it carries no stigma."

Of the 2.25 million SATs that are taken every year, Ewing said, ETS cancels about 1,000 test scores and 99.9 percent of those are for students copying off each other.

The College Board only alerts the authorities about an investigation if they believe students violated the law, Ewing told ABC News.

“We’re much more concerned with cancelling scores and letting universities know they’re not available for admission than detailing whatever may have happened,” he said.

Once a student’s score is canceled for cheating, that student is allowed to take the test again and there are no additional punitive measures pursued by the College Board.

The ACT, another college entrance exam, has a similar policy.

“We don’t tell schools or anyone else; we simply cancel the score,” ACT spokesman Ed Colby told the Los Angeles Times in 2008.

ACT media relations director Scott Gomer, confirmed to ABC News that this continues to be the ACT’s policy. Students that are caught cheating are allowed to take the test again, but the cancelled test does count against the organization’s 12-test limit.

Ewing said that while the scandal in Long Island has caused some people to call for stricter security measures, it’s unlikely the College Board will overhaul its security procedures.

“[We] are always trying to review enhancements to the test security process, but any enhancement has to take into account that it doesn’t unnecessarily burden test takers,” he said. "It’s such a rare occurrence, these kind of things. It hardly merits massive revision to the test security process.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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