When it comes to SAT impostors, prevention is a wiser tool than punishment.
Last month seven current and former Great Neck North High School students were arrested in an alleged SAT scam in which a bright alumnus earned as much as $2,500 a shot to take the test under other students' names. Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice says more arrests in other communities are likely.
Worldwide, 3,500 tests were invalidated for suspected cheating (out of 2 million given) and experts believe more go undetected. The SAT is a high-stakes test, and cheating is a real problem, albeit one that ETS, the agency that administers SATs, can address better than legislatures or cops.
What's needed is a security protocol that isn't too overbearing but still eliminates the problem. An ideal solution would be to have students take the tests only at their own school, but because the test is offered on different days at different schools and many students take it multiple times, that won't entirely work.
What might is a two-tiered approach: Students taking the exam at their own school need only a school ID, but those visiting another school for the SATs would face a more rigorous identification process.
We shouldn't address the problem with draconian punishments for high school students. No one benefits when a teen's life is ruined, and if we secure the SAT process properly, it won't have to come to that. hN