SAT cheating scandal hearings scheduled

A file photo of a student taking a A file photo of a student taking a practice SAT in Newton, Mass. (March 3, 2005) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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State lawmakers will hold a hearing in two weeks on a widening SAT cheating scandal, setting the stage for a confrontation between defenders of one of the world's most widely used college-admissions exams and some of its sternest critics.

One invited witness is Kurt Landgraf, president of ETS of Princeton, N.J., which administers more than 2 million SAT exams each year and often is described as the world's biggest nonprofit testing company. ETS said Tuesday it plans to send a representative.

Another potential witness is Robert Schaeffer, public education director for FairTest, a Massachusetts group critical of standardized testing. Schaeffer said he hopes to attend.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said through a spokesman that it would be inappropriate for her to testify because her office is investigating the case.

Bernard Kaplan, principal of Great Neck North High School, where students were charged with misdemeanors in the alleged scheme, also has been invited to testify. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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The Oct. 25 hearing, headed by state Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, is to begin at 10 a.m. in Roosevelt Hall at Farmingdale State College.

LaValle has pressed ETS for recommendations on tightening test security. LaValle says ETS' latest response, while acknowledging the seriousness of the cheating, leaves questions unanswered.

"What was still lacking was the kind of detail that we need to make changes," the senator said.

One idea LaValle put forth would ban students who cheat from retesting for a set period of time. The senator has voiced concerns that teens who boost their SAT scores by cheating might take college slots from more deserving applicants.

ETS does not notify colleges when students cheat, but invalidates their scores and offers them a chance to retest. An ETS spokesman, Tom Ewing, said his agency was "ready to provide whatever assistance the senator needs," but provided no details.

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