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SAT cheating scandal goes beyond courtroom

10. SAT cheating scandal Current and former students

10. SAT cheating scandal
Current and former students of Long Island high schools were arrested and face criminal charges for allegedly cheating on college admissions tests, according to police. Students allegedly paid test takers to impersonate them and take the SAT and ACT exams between 2008 and 2011.

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Joshua Chefec, left, Adam Justin, background center, and George Trane, right, are escorted from the Nassau County district attorney's office. (Nov. 22, 2011)

Credit: Howard Schnapp

When it comes to the widening SAT cheating scandal, the law may be the easy part -- far easier than confronting all the academic fallout.

Can the cheating be proven? Was it a crime? Have prosecutors fingered the right kids?

Answer those questions yes, yes and yes -- and some of those 20 promising young Long Islanders could soon conceivably be trading classroom semesters for lockup time.

The defendants fall into two distinct categories: Fifteen students from good Nassau County high schools -- Great Neck North and others -- are accused of sending in impersonators to take the SAT or ACT for them. And five college-age brainiacs allegedly charged $300 to $3,600 for the unauthorized help.

The numbers could easily grow as the students start talking to authorities. Several of their lawyers are already hinting that the cheating is more widespread than is already known. And Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota is asking superintendents to make sure no kids in his county had similar send-in-the-ringer ideas.

But whatever happens at the Mineola courthouse, the effects on the academic world could be far-reaching and profound.

If cheating's this easy and college that important, why should it be limited to one affluent swatch of Nassau's North Shore? Aren't high school seniors under pressure everywhere?

And if the cheating charges are proven, the colleges these kids attend will be under huge pressure to expel them. Anything less wouldn't be fair to the cheaters' honest classmates.

Honest students from Long Island may be the biggest victims of all. When their friends at Harvard, Yale or Slippery Rock State hear where they went to high school, isn't a single, unfair comment inevitable? "Oh. Yeah. We know how you got here."



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