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Future uncertain for SAT cheating bill

Sen. Kenneth LaValle, R-Port Jefferson, watches a presentation

Sen. Kenneth LaValle, R-Port Jefferson, watches a presentation during a higher education budget hearing in Albany. (Jan. 24, 2012) Credit: AP

ALBANY -- Proposed legislation that would create criminal penalties for SAT cheating schemes has gotten a cool reception in the Assembly, making its future uncertain.

Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who heads the Senate Higher Education Committee, said Tuesday he's working on changes to his bill in part to incorporate tougher security changes recently announced by the companies that run the SAT and ACT exams.

But the chairwoman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan), said those security measures should eliminate the problem. "The College Board has taken the appropriate review," she said. "I don't know . . . what is gained at this time by pursuing legislation."

LaValle, who discussed the issue in a committee meeting Tuesday, said the enhanced security measures would probably reduce cheating incidents, but it was important to codify standards and penalties for the future.

"This is a changing world," LaValle said. "What they put in place today, creative young minds could thwart a year or two from now."

He said he expects a revised bill to pass the Senate before the end of the legislative session in June, but the legislation does not have a sponsor in the Assembly.

The College Board and Educational Testing Service, the companies that design and administer the SAT and ACT, will implement new security measures to prevent impersonations by test takers next year. The cheating scandal that erupted in Great Neck last year involved test takers who allegedly pretended to be other students. Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice filed charges against 20 current and former students who are accused of paying people as much as $3,500 to take the SAT for them.

Under the new enhanced measures, students would be required to provide acceptable photo identification to sign up for the test and would be given a personalized test admission ticket imprinted with that photograph. To gain entry to the test, students would have to present the admission ticket and photo ID. Students would no longer be allowed to register on the day of the test as "walk ins."

LaValle's bill would make cheating schemes that use impersonation a misdemeanor for those younger than 21; Parents and repeat offenders older than 21 could be charged with a felony.

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