A New York Bill Looks to Make SAT Cheating a Crime

In an effort to combat SAT test fraud in New York, Suffolk County Senator Kenneth LaValle proposed a bill that would create two new felony charges: “scheming to defraud educational testing” and “facilitation of education testing fraud”. There would also be a new misdemeanor charge called “forgery of a test” to sway students from attempting to cheat on the college entrance tests. According to the Boston Globe, the person who would be in jeopardy of facing these charges is not the student, but the person who accepts payment to take the test.

The bill further requests that test takers will need to present adequate photo identification in order to prove that their name matches the name that is on the docket for the test. State officials are not taking this subject lightly. They have also included the possibility of using fingerprinting and retinal scans as security measures.

Reason for Proposal

This proposal was the result of recent scandal in a well-to-do suburb in New York City where legislative investigations had to be conducted.

LaValle said that due to the large amount of New York SAT test takers, the state could set the bar for the security measures that should be taken to prevent test fraud. He also believed that once New York set the bar, the rest of the country would eventually follow suit. “As they say, as New York goes, so does the country,” said LaValle.

Call for Higher Standards

Senator Lee M. Zelden of Suffolk County said that he would like to see testing companies like The College Board, who administers the SAT, be held more accountable when cheaters are caught.

This entire buzz was stirred up by the Nassau County scandal in September, when 20 high school students schemed to cheat on the standardized tests. Claims have revealed that between $500 and $3600 was paid to each test-taker who participated in this plot.

A Heated Hearing

In a hearing on Tuesday in Albany that was prompted by the recent scam event, LaValle, Zelden, and Senator Toby Ann Stavisky drilled The College Board members. The Senators were unhappy about the fact that The College Board’s testimony in November at the Long Island test fraud trial did not help to find solutions or even aid in determining the scope of the cheating that occurred in the September incident.

The College Board’s Senior Vice President for advocacy, development and government relations, Tom Rudin, states clearly, “We’re not a law enforcement agency.” He also mentioned that this type of cheating scheme happens rarely and, only in very few cases are law enforcement officials called in. He continued to add that even when the company has called law enforcement in the past about potential fraud cases, The College Board did not receive a “warm reception”.

“In the end, it is the responsibility of local enforcement to take action,” Rudin said. “Again, we are deeply committed to working with local law enforcement.”

College Board’s Response

Ray Nicosia, member of the office of testing integrity for The College Board explained that the company has always worked hard to keep its security measures updated and checking for identification as accurate as possible at testing centers. He also mentioned that the different types of technology that are emerging, like cell phones, touchpads, and smartphones, are making it more difficult to detect if people are cheating or not. “But we, senator, have never had a case like this with sums of money changing hands.”

LaValle reminded them about the sexual abuse allegations by the Penn State and Syracuse University former assistant coaches and how the school officials allegedly covered up information and knowledge and ended his point in the hearing with, “You can’t close your eyes.”