The College Board and Educational Testing Service (ETS) are facing allegations laid out in a class action lawsuit that the SAT exam administered on August 25 and 26, 2018, was actually a duplicate of an exam administered last October in Asia. The obvious problem with this, the 18-page complaint argues, is that some students may not have gotten a fair shake at the test compared to others who may have been able to view the exam’s contents ahead of time.
“Widespread Leaks and Cheating Scandals”
After providing some background on the SAT exam and the registration process, the complaint, filed by a John Doe plaintiff on behalf of his minor child, notes that the integrity of the all-important test has come into question in recent years as the result of “widespread leaks and cheating scandals.” The case cites a 2016 Reuters report that revealed the SAT test was thoroughly compromised due to corruption within the test preparation industry. From the complaint:
The fundamental flaw: The College Board recycles test materials enabling test preparation operators to gain access to contents of the SAT exam and package that material for their clients to study. While recycling tests is seemingly cost effective, the practice serves to undermine test score integrity.”
Seemingly aware of the dilemma, the College Board, since October 2014, has delayed issuing scores in Asia more than once and has even canceled an exam sitting due to concerns that SAT test material had been exposed to the public, the lawsuit says.
The Lawsuit’s Allegations
According to the lawsuit, immediately following the August 25th and 26th exams, posts on Reddit, Twitter and other platforms “featured images with the test questions,” all but confirming the exam contained the same questions found on the October 2017 test in Asia. As a result of the reused exam questions having leaked online leading up to this summer’s test, the case says, students who sat for the August 25th and 26th exams may have already taken the October 2017 SAT test and/or practiced the same test in preparation for their own exam.
“By continuing their known practice of recycling questions, [the defendants] failed to ensure each test taker had a ‘fair and reasonable opportunity to demonstrate college readiness,’” the complaint reads.
Who’s to Blame?
Following public outcry, the defendants, the complaint continues, reportedly released the following non-apology on College Board’s Twitter account:
For those of you who have asked about the SAT test on Saturday, Aug. 25/Sunday, Aug. 26, we do not comment on the specifics of test form and/or question usage, in order to protect the security of our tests. Most multiple-choice scores from the August SAT test will be available online on Sept. 7 as planned.
As part of our comprehensive approach to test security, after every test administration, we take additional quality control steps before scores are released, including conducting a comprehensive statistical analysis of certain test scores. If we determine students have gained an unfair advantage, we will take appropriate actions, including cancelling test scores and, in some cases, prohibiting them from taking another College Board Assessment. The vast majority of students follow our test security policies and our efforts are focused on identifying those who did not.”
The above statement, the case protests, amounts to the defendants passing the buck to, who else—the students.
“Rather than accept the responsibility and acknowledge its errors,” the complaint argues, “the College Board and, by association, ETS, appear to blame students for their failure to keep the exam secure.”
According to the suit, students must pay a $47.50 registration fee for the SAT and a $64.50 fee for the SAT with Essay, notwithstanding preparation costs, late registration fees, waitlist fees, and other charges.
Who’s covered by this lawsuit?
The lawsuit looks to cover a nationwide class of individuals who took the SAT exam on August 25 or 26, 2018, as well as a Florida-only class who sat for the test on those same dates.