New SAT security measures start Saturday
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Hundreds of thousands of high school students worldwide on Saturday will be the first group to take the SAT college-entrance exam under anti-cheating measures that require stronger photographic proof of students' identities and close test-day loopholes.
The sweeping security measures are being rolled out by the College Board, ETS and ACT Inc., organizations that either sponsor or administer widely used college-admissions tests, in response to cheating cases that led to last year's arrests of 20 students in public and private schools on Long Island.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, who pressed for reforms after investigating those cases, called the changes "tough, high-tech security measures." In a statement, she expressed confidence they will eliminate "the kind of cheating we found to be so easy last year."
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The procedures emphasize validating a student's identity at his or her designated test site and include more training for proctors who oversee tests, College Board officials said.
Test-takers have had to provide a photo ID for years. But beginning with Saturday's exam, they also must present their admission ticket at their designated test center. Test-day changes of location and student "walk-ins" no longer are permitted.
Students will face additional ID checks through the day, including when proctors collect their answer sheets.
Many of the reforms were announced in March by College Board and ACT executives and the district attorney. The companies, citing security, have not disclosed some of the actions they are taking.
The misconduct initially was uncovered and reported by Great Neck school officials.
Bernard Kaplan, principal of Great Neck North High School, said the reforms will make the tests more legitimate.
"I'm extremely pleased both ACT and ETS got around to making the changes that needed to be made to make their tests more secure," he said.
Sam Eshaghoff, 20, a Great Neck North graduate who attends Emory University in Atlanta, was charged with accepting as much as $3,600 from one student and taking the test for as many as 15 students. Prosecutors have said he took the tests at other high schools, using fake identification.
In all, 20 students from Great Neck North and Great Neck South high schools, Roslyn High School, St. Mary's High School in Manhasset and North Shore Hebrew Academy in Great Neck were charged with cheating. Five of the students were charged with accepting money to take the test for other students.
Eshaghoff and one other defendant are awaiting sentencing. The other cases were resolved through legal settlements, with defendants classified as youthful offenders.
Further measures go into effect before the March 9 SAT. To complete online test registration, students must upload a photo, which will be printed on their test-day admission ticket. Proctors at test sites will be able to access a database of photos.
The uploading of photos during registration is voluntary now, but about 65 to 70 percent of students who have registered have uploaded photos, College Board spokeswoman Kathleen Steinberg said.
From the time of registration for the March test forward, all test-day admission tickets will include the student's photo, and students will be required to bring in separate photo identification.
At Locust Valley High School, which is a designated SAT test site, officials this fall reviewed security procedures for students and parents. High school ID cards, which carry students' photos, have been revamped to include students' date of birth.
Assistant Principal Rebecca Gottesman said the district has always made it clear to students that they must bring a photo ID on test day, "but I just don't think it was enforced as much as it needed to be from College Board."
"The kids are very well aware of everything that happened last year, and they are very well aware these procedures will be enforced," she said.
Emma Gugerty, 17, a Locust Valley senior, will take an SAT subject test on Saturday. She took the full SAT in January and has taken the ACT.
"All of those things are really good measures that they are taking to maintain the integrity of the test," she said. "The students that cheat are making it unfair to all the students that really work hard to get good grades."
Admissions expert Pam Proctor of Vero Beach, Fla., author of "The College Hook: Packaging Yourself to Win the College Admissions Game," said students are familiar with all sorts of security measures, such as those imposed on airline passengers, and won't see the measures as a roadblock.
"Their main concern is taking the test and doing well on it," said Proctor, a graduate of Mineola High School.
Students nationwide took the ACT on Sept. 8 under greater security measures, according to company officials. During registration online or by mail, they had to provide their gender and identify the high school they attend. On test day, they were required to bring and present a photo ID. Staff at test locations had a roster of all students who had registered before test day.
More ACT security changes are in store, including requiring students to submit photo ID at registration and sending a student's photo on the score report sent to high schools.State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who as chairman of the state Senate's Higher Education Committee held hearings on test security after the cheating scandal, said the reforms "should work until our creative students find a way around what is in place."
Bob Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest, who is a longtime critic of the college-entrance exams, said the crackdown "might be overkill."
"Their motivation is public relations. They are likely bending over backwards to avoid future Great Necks," he said. "It was an incredibly embarrassing experience for them and it raised questions about all their exams."
2012-13 SAT testing dates
New security measures for SAT test-takers
Students must take the test at the center designated on their admission ticket
Admission ticket has to be presented at that designated test center
Students must provide name of attending high school
Students are subject to additional ID checks during the day, including during collection of answer sheets
Walk-ins on test day are no longer allowed
Further measures for the March 9 and all subsequent SAT tests
Test-takers will be required to upload photos at online registration
2012-13 ACT testing dates*
*The ACT test was administered Sept. 8.
**No test centers are scheduled in New York for the February test date.
Security procedures in place for test given Sept. 8 and required in the future
Acceptable photo ID was required
Students provided gender and identified their home high school when registering for test
Everyone must pre-register. No walk-ins allowed
More security procedures coming during the year
Students must submit or upload a photo when they register by mail or online
Students must present ticket with photo at test center
On test day, students must present another form of photo ID
ACT may visit centers on test day and collect images of test-takers during check-in and other security activities
Student's photo is printed on the post-test score report that is sent to the student's high school
SOURCES: The College Board, ACT Inc.