SAT Tightens Security After Long Island Cheating Scandal

The College Board seeks to permanently intensify SAT security after a cheating scandal revealed holes in its academic dishonesty prevention plans. In late September, 19-year-old Emory University student Samual Eshagoff was arrested for allegedly accepting money to help six Long Island high school students cheat on the SAT. He was paid $1,500 to $2,500 by each student to create a falsified ID, pose as the test-taker, and take the SAT for the student, according to an article in the New York Times. Up to that point, test day security measures only required students to show their ID so that test proctors could match up the name on the ID with the name of the test-taker scheduled to sit for the examination. Unfortunately, this has proven to not be enough.

"As tests have become higher-stakes tests, as the competition between kids for scholarships and college entrance has increased, the likelihood of kids looking for ways to beat the system – to cheat – has increased," Henry Grisham, superintendent of Jericho Public Schools on Long Island, told the New York Times in a follow-up article.

In other words, the pressure to get into a good college at any cost may cause some students to find and exploit weaknesses in test security measures. To better prevent future incidents of cheating, the College Board is considering the option of adding more identification measures for test-takers, including the use of digital photographs to ensure that all students are actually who they say they are, the article reported. This will at least prevent others from taking someone else’s test using basic false identification. In addition, the College Board hired former FBI chief Louis J. Freeh as a consultant to help develop even more security measures.

But this is not the first time the College Board has been made aware of the flaws in its security measures. Some principals and superintendents have long been saying that SAT security was inadequate for such an important test, the New York Times article reported. They advocated for more advanced screening tactics like fingerprinting, and most importantly, the implementation of real punishments for those caught in an act of academic dishonesty. Before the arrest of Eshagoff, if a student was suspected of cheating in any way, the College Board simply cancelled his or her test scores and allowed that student to retake the exam. No notification would be sent to the student’s high school or prospective colleges, the article stated, and even as of today, no other official punishments for cheating on the SAT are currently in place.

Though no official changes in security measures have been implemented yet, the College Board has stated that it takes the issue of academic dishonesty seriously and will work with Freeh and other former law enforcement officials and security experts to develop a better system to prevent further cheating incidents.

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