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LI senator to seek fines against College Board for SAT info delays

April Plante of Floral Park said she feels

April Plante of Floral Park said she feels "helpless" that her son Dylan Plante, 17, a senior at Chaminade High School in Mineola, is still waiting to receive the College Board's assessment report for the May exam; he took a retest on Saturday. Above, the family at their home on Sept. 30, 2016. Credit: Daniel Goodrich

Sponsors of the SAT college-admissions exam have acknowledged systemic delays in providing questions and answers from a newly revamped test to parents and students who paid fees for the information.

State law requires such information to be provided to students who pay for the service and sets deadlines for delivery.

State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), author of the Truth in Testing Law and chairman of the Senate’s Higher Education Committee, said Friday that he would seek stiffer fines against Manhattan-based College Board and other testing agencies that violate the statute. The current penalty of $500 was set in 1979 with the law’s adoption.

College-bound students, under that law, have a right to see which of their exam answers were correct or incorrect. Students pay $18 fees for this, typically on the assumption that such information will help boost scores on test retakes. The SAT is administered each year to more than 1.5 million students nationwide, including more than 150,000 in New York State.

The exam itself costs $45, with another $12 for an optional essay.

April Plante, a Floral Park mother of three, said she is frustrated with College Board’s failure to deliver. Her youngest son, Dylan, 17, a senior at Chaminade High School in Mineola, took the SAT in May and again on Saturday.

Plante paid her fee to the testing agency in mid-March for content from the May assessment.

It was not until Sept. 20, the mother said, that she received an email from College Board stating that the $18 would be refunded because the agency could not guarantee when the information she sought would be provided.

“As a parent, you want every opportunity for your child,” Plante said. “I feel helpless, that I should do everything I can to help my child, and I can’t.”

Plante sent Newsday a dated fee receipt, along with copies of correspondence with a College Board customer-service specialist, who did not return Newsday’s call.

On Friday, the day Newsday reached out to the College Board, a College Board agent contacted Plante, canceling the refund and saying the material now would be mailed to her in a little over two weeks.

Plante said the reversal did not change her views of her experience with College Board.

“I feel like they dropped the ball,” she said.

LaValle said he would pursue the issue when state lawmakers reconvene in January.

“It’s about their making money and not caring about their constituency, the students,” the senator said of College Board. In a statement, College Board said that production of reports requested by students took longer than anticipated because the agency was dealing with a new exam first administered in March.

“We understand the frustration this delay has caused to students and parents, and appreciate their patience,” said the statement provided by Maria Alcon-Heraux, media relations director for College Board.

Alcon-Heraux did not respond to Newsday’s request for the number of fee refunds provided nationwide.

The testing law, widely considered a national model, requires publishers of college-entrance exams to release copies publicly within 30 days of administration. Publishers then have another 90 days to provide students with additional information.

College Board’s reports to test takers are called Question-and-Answer Services. They include students’ answers to questions, correct answers, scoring instructions and information about the questions’ level of difficulty.

Counselors said they noticed an unusual increase recently in the number of students whose QAS reports were either delayed or not delivered.

Brian Stewart, president of BWS Education Consulting, a tutoring firm in Columbus, Ohio, called the delivery delays “really major” and the first he had encountered on such a scale. He added that none of the students he tutors have yet received QAS reports from the May assessment.

Stewart also writes SAT guidebooks for Barron’s Educational Series, a Hauppauge-based publisher.

“Test takers, parents and counselors are angry,” said Bob Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest, a Boston-based group critical of standardized testing. “They can’t get a clear answer from College Board.”

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