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ETS Says SAT Cheating Attempts Not Uncommon


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Michele Norris. The company that administers the SAT says it catches hundreds of people a year trying to impersonate test-takers. Officials from the Educational Testing Service spoke at a New York state Senate hearing today, where lawmakers are investigating an alleged SAT cheating ring.

Charles Lane, of member station WSHU, reports.

CHARLES LANE, BYLINE: Six students allegedly hired a former student to take their SAT test for them. All seven were arrested on criminal charges. The SAT administrator, Educational Testing Service, said last month that such cases are rare. But today, they revised that statement and said nationally, about 750 would-be impersonators are caught at the door, and another 150 are caught after their SAT scores trigger an investigation that compares handwriting samples.

ETS says they expect the cheating scandal to grow, with more indictments from Long Island and another state. But all this is the tip of the iceberg, according to educational officials who testified at today's hearing.

Bernard Kaplan is the principal at Great Neck North High School, where the initial cheating investigations have been focused.

BERNARD KAPLAN: They let the students take it anywhere they want. They make it easy to cheat, hard to get caught. And if they do get caught there is, historically, minimal consequence.

LANE: Kaplan and others are suggesting that ETS beef up security by fingerprinting or photographing students, and that tests should be given at the student's own high school - presumably, where impersonators would be recognized.

But ETS President Kurt Landgraf says the cost of such reforms would be passed on to students and that already, their security is world class.

KURT LANDGRAF: If we suspect someone has been using an impersonator, we go after them with every means we have available.

LANE: Landgraf adds that current law prohibits ETS from notifying anyone except the student that cheating may have occurred. ETS is also promising to review security procedures. Lawmakers say they will consider making cheating on the SAT a crime. Right now, cheating is only referred to prosecutors if money changed hands.

For NPR News, I'm Charles Lane. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, a National Murrow, and he was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists.