College Board faces criticism from summer SATs


Sean Lee, Staff Writer

College Board, the creators of the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and the Advanced Placement high school programs, has faced backlash over their actions while administering the SAT on June 1 and August 26. After receiving their scores, students petitioned for College Board to re-score their tests after a harsh math curve was discovered. Additionally, some students and parents believed that canceling the August scores was necessary, as cheating was rumored to have occurred. One father even went as far as filing a class action lawsuit against the College Board for multiple “widespread leaks and cheating scandals.” This class action lawsuit could drastically change how SAT question-and-answer services are administered to the public.

What Happened at the June SAT

Soon after receiving their scores, students discovered that the College Board used the harshest math curve ever seen. A student who missed 6 questions would earn a 670 on the June SAT, 100 points less than what he/she would have earned in the January 2017 SAT. These differences in the score are determined by an equating process that the College Board uses. Depending on the difficulty of the test questions, the College Board will adjust the amount each question is worth. For June SAT test-takers this meant that a single question missed would lose you around 30 points.

Students organized a protest on July 16th for a re-score of their tests. Even though the re-score petitions and protests ultimately failed, it brought enough attention to the issue that the College Board was forced to issue an official statement. The College Board responded by saying that they would not re-score the June SAT as “the equating process ensures fairness for all students.” The College Board went on to say that, “the result would be the same even if we re-scored it.”

What Happened at the August SAT

College Board faced yet another controversy after the August SAT was administered. Test-takers discovered that the test they took was the same one that international students took in October of 2017. The October 2017 International SAT had already been online on popular Chinese apps and discussion websites, specifically WeChat. Petitions to cancel the August SAT score circulated the internet. The College Board responded with a statement to NBC News, in which the organization stated that, “In response to theft and organized cheating, which affects all of high stakes testing, we have significantly increased our test security efforts and resources.”

An unnamed father from Florida filed a class-action lawsuit against the College Board for how “despite its knowledge of the compromised exams, the College Board continues to administer tests overseas… The College Board also continues to repeat previous test questions.” The allegations draw from a number of sources, including a 2016 Reuters report in which a team of journalists investigated the security breaches that the College Board and its tests have undergone. If the father wins this case, the College Board would have to make serious revisions to the way it administers tests in the U.S. and overseas.

Problems that Future SATs Face

After the June and August SATs, the College Board must make changes to the equating process and the release of question-and-answer services. These two SATs highlight the College Board’s weaknesses when it comes to the fairness between each test and the leakage of test answers online. Some have suggested that computer generated questions could be the solution to the equating problem, but this brings a whole host of new problems to the SAT if that was to be implemented. Even if the College Board decides to switch all testing matter to electronics, new methods of cheating will arise as a response.