New SAT, ACT security oversteps boundaries


By Lara Fu, News Editor

For most students, standardized testing is not the ideal way to spend a weekend morning. Nearly anything is better than sitting in a small classroom taking a four-hour exam on reading, math and writing. However, no student can be exempt from standardized testing if he or she wishes to attend elite colleges in the US—except for, apparently, certain high school students from Long Island, NY.

According to a March 27 MSNBC article, at least 20 New York students from multiple schools paid people up to $3,500 to take their SAT or ACT for them. In one instance, a male was even able to pose as a female student without getting caught.

According to a Nov. 22, 2011 MSNBC article, the cheating ring was exposed in September 2011.

In response to this scandal, beginning this fall the College Board and Educational Testing Service will require all students to submit photo identification with their SAT or ACT registration prior to the testing date. The photo will be printed on the admission ticket as well as the proctor’s roster in an attempt to tighten security measures as much as possible.

When a student registers for the SAT or ACT, his or her name and gender, among other information, will be printed on the admission ticket required for entrance. Proctors are supposed to check students’ ticket and photo ID before allowing them to enter the testing room. Printing photos on the admission ticket and roster will certainly leave a slimmer margin of error for deception.

According to a March 28 Washington Times article, no price increases for students will be implemented due to this change.

The College Board elicited an appropriate response to this cheating scandal, certainly just one of many cheating instances occurring across the country. Like it or not, the SAT and ACT are key components of the college application process, and all students must be given a fair opportunity to do their best. The idea that these students were able to get away with such an enormous ethical violation is appalling.

Despite this increase in security, the College Board needs to take even more steps in order to ensure as much transparency as possible.

Unfortunately, many proctors are either too hasty or too laidback to thoroughly examine every student’s identification materials. While it is understandable that the students who are testing are anxious to finish as soon as possible, it is unacceptable that the proctors can be so careless. Proctors must be willing to spend extra time verifying students’ identities if there is to be a significant decline in cheating.

Even though these increases in security were desperately needed, the College Board overstepped its boundaries by announcing its decision to send the identification photos to colleges as well. When submitting college applications, it is imperative that admissions officers do not form opinions of applicants based on physical appearance. While photo identification is important for proctors to view for security reasons, no security violation will be solved by sending colleges the applicants’ photos as well.

The College Board cannot guarantee complete honesty and integrity, but it should take as many precautions as possible. However, passing the photos to colleges is an unnecessary and illogical step that could potentially harm applicants.