County prosecutors in NY are investigating the depth of a cheating scandal on the SAT’s.
On its face, the investigation concerns allegations that students paid a 19-year-old between $1,500 and $2,500 to take the test for them. They registered at high schools other than their own and the imposter, using a fake id, rewarded them with scores between 2100 and 2250 out of a possible 2400.
This investigation has that “tip of the iceberg” feel.
Already it has spread to three other New York high schools and cast an unpleasant light on the Educational Testing Service, the private company that administers the SAT, and should be catching the imposters.
But, that’s not all. Are parents complicit? Even in wealthy districts, do high school children have that much money to pay for an increased SAT score without their parents’ knowledge?
Would students choose to spend money on their SATs without their parents’ knowledge?
As the investigation raises all sorts of questions, it is my hope that this issue stays in the news and brings cheating of all kinds under the microscope.
The huge numbers of honest students need protection from this sort of scandal. They should not have to compete with cheaters for coveted admissions spots.
In addition to high stakes cheating such as this, plain vanilla cheating is alive and well in schools everywhere as it has always been.
There are also so many new ways to cheat.
The smart phone is one of the most powerful tools. Students can “google” answers in a flash if needed. Students can text answers to a classmate. A trip to the bathroom may be needed, but it happens.
Students can photograph the answer key in one second if they happen to spot it on a teacher’s desk. Or worse, if they go searching for it. Fake ids are easy to make.
In addition to all these ways, plagiarism opens new doors too. It’s easy to “google” essays or to buy one online.
So what does it all mean for the honest student? Is he or she competing against cheaters?
We would never want the students who play by the rules to feel like they are alone.
What does it mean for teachers and administrators? They have enough to do without having to check every single paper for plagiarism or to collect cell phones before each exam. But, many are doing this to insure integrity.
In the streams of comments following news reports of the SAT investigations, several point to the competitive nature of college admissions. Of course, parents are complicit with a cheating scandal of this nature, they say.
I hope the punishments will be swift and harsh, and will send a warning to everyone else. We need to put an end to insidious cheating.