Entries in Tests (4)


SAT Cheating Ring Forces Board to Rethink Security

Hemera/Thinkstock(LONG ISLAND, N.Y.) -- A cheating scandal uncovered last month in Great Neck, N.Y., may affect how millions of high school students around the country take the SATs, as the board that administers the test has hired a former FBI director to advise on enhanced security measures.

“It’s a problem,” said state Sen. Kenneth LaValle, who convened a hearing Tuesday on Long Island about standardized test security procedures. “This is not just in Great Neck. It’s across the board. It’s a national issue.”

The issue is impersonation -- students hiring a ringer to take the test for them. Seven current or former Great Neck North High School students were arrested last month, allegedly part of a cheating ring that paid a college student $2,500 to impersonate the other six and take the SAT for them.

Executives from the College Board said Tuesday they are considering “potential enhancements” to safeguard future tests. They include changes in the types, forms, number and qualification of acceptable identification; changes to requirements for collection of identifying information at the time of registration and on test day; additional test-day security requirements, including the use of digital photography.

“We are determined to provide the most rigorous test security available while not discouraging a single deserving student from pursuing his or her college aspirations,” College Board president Gaston Caperton said.

New York state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky told Caperton any test security changes need to come at his expense.

“I am very troubled by any improvements that you make where costs are passed along to the student taking the test. To me that would be outrageous,” she said.

The College Board has hired Freeh Group International Solutions, a consulting firm run by former FBI director Louis Freeh.

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


College-Bound Students Not Prepared in Basic Subjects

Creatas/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Only one in four college-bound high school graduates is adequately prepared for college-level English, reading, math, and science, according to report released Wednesday by the ACT college admissions test.

Some 28 percent of the members of the high school class of 2011 failed to meet readiness benchmarks in any of the four core subject areas.

"ACT results continue to show an alarmingly high number of students who are graduating without all the academic skills they need to succeed after high school," the report stated.

The study also revealed a wide "achievement gap" between racial and ethnic groups.

  • In English, 77 percent of white students and 76 percent of Asian-American students met the readiness benchmark compared with 47 percent of Latinos and 35 percent of African-Americans.
  • In Reading, 62 percent of both white and Asian-American students met the readiness benchmark compared with 35 percent of Latinos and 21 percent of African-Americans.
  • In Mathematics, 71 percent of Asian-American students met the readiness benchmark compared with 54 percent of white students, 30 percent of Latinos and 14 percent of African-Americans.
  • In Science, 41 percent of Asian-American students met the readiness benchmark versus 37 percent of whites, 15 percent of Latino students and 6 percent of African-Americans.
  • Some 41 percent of Asian-Americans met the readiness benchmarks in all four subjects, compared with 31 percent for whites, 11 percent for Latinos and 4 percent for African-Americans.

"There's still a significant and an actually growing gap both at incomes levels and at racial/ethnic levels in the achievement of those benchmarks," said Jon Erickson, interim president of ACT. "This is a national imperative and a national concern."

Readiness was defined as a student having a 50 percent chance of getting a B or a 75 percent chance of getting a C in first-year courses English Composition, College Algebra, Biology, and social sciences.

There was some good news in the report. The percentages of all students meeting the benchmarks in mathematics and science increased from 2010 to 2011 by 2 percentage points in math and 1 percentage point in science. They remained the same for English (66 percent) and for reading (52 percent)

More than 1.6 million 2011 high school graduates -- 49 percent of the entire national graduating class -- took the ACT exam.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Teacher Cheating Scandal Shakes Atlanta

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Atlanta Public Schools are under investigation after having been accused of systemic cheating over 10 years that involves about 180 educators, including more than three dozen principals.

A report released Tuesday by the Georgia governor's offices alleges that there was widespread doctoring of state curriculum tests and that much of the academic progress the school system bragged about was bogus.

Furthermore, investigators say that Superintendent Beverly Hall either knew what was going on or, at the very least, should have been aware that many of Atlanta's educators were guilty of perpetrating fraud.

State investigators began looking into the results of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test in 2009, which showed suspicious score changes.

The report contends that improprieties were regularly covered up while wrong-doers were rewarded and whistle-blowers punished.  Far worse, the report finds that tens of thousands of students came out as the real victims because their abilities were wrongly appraised.

Besides the expected reprimands and firings, criminal charges could be brought against some higher-ups, since destroying government records and lying to investigators carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison.

As for Hall, she left her job a week ago and has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, although she recently said others were to blame.  In 2009, she was named Superintendent of the Year for the nation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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