March 27th, 2012
11:14 AM ET

SAT, ACT institute tough new measures to prevent cheating

[Updated at 2:27 p.m. ET] Sweeping new security measures to prevent cheating on the SAT and ACT college entrance exams were announced Tuesday.

Beginning with exams taken in September, students will have to submit a photo of themselves when they apply for a test. That photo will be printed on the student's test admission ticket and the roster provided to proctors at testing sites. Testing staff will compare the submitted photo to a photo ID and to the student in person at the testing site.

Photo checks will take place when the student arrives at the testing site, during breaks and when tests are handed in.

Student photos will also remain in the testing databases and be checked again by high school counselors and college admission officials once scores are calculated and submitted.

The new rules were announced at news conference in Nassau County, New York, where 20 people were arrested last fall in a SAT/ACT cheating scandal.

"A photo ID simply won't work to game the system anymore," said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, whose office is prosecuting the alleged cheating cases.

In those cases, test-takers produced fake IDs and took the tests for high school students who paid them to do so, Rice said. The test-takers took the test at high schools other than the ones the students attended to prevent being identified by staff, Rice said at Tuesday's news conference.

Students will still be permitted to take tests at high schools other than their own, Rice said, but standby testing - showing up at a test site without prior registration for that site - would no longer be permitted.

The changes will "ensure honest kids will no longer take a back seat to cheaters," Rice said.

Rice was joined Tuesday by Kathryn Juric, vice president of SAT at the College Board, which administers the SAT, and Charles Smith, vice president of the ACT.

"We are confident that the security advancements made today will help maintain an honest testing environment," Juric said.  "It was crucial that these new measures address test-taker impersonation issues."

Smith said students would not face any increased cost because of the new security measures.

"We believe we can cover the cost out of our reserve we set aside for instances like this," he said.

Officials expect most students to be able to upload a photo of themselves to the testing services when they submit their application online, they said, but mail-in applications would still be accepted with a photo attached. The testing services would then put that photo into the database to be added to admission tickets and test records.

"The problem is we have kids that think that cheating pays," Rice said.

If, after the changes, possible cheaters still believe that, Rice said she had one message for them.

"You're wrong. You're not going to get away with it," she said.

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Filed under: Crime • Education
soundoff (204 Responses)

    Next up will be retinal scans, DNA matching and then the dreaded rubber glove.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Wow this is crazy, yet the ACLU opposes voters showing a valid ID to vote!!!!!!!

      March 27, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Nat

      Give it a break. IDs have always been required in the last few years that I know of. I had to show one for my GRE. It is just that it will have to be shown earlier than before, such as at registration and the photo will attach to the exam scores when it goes back the the HS. No biggie id you are the real student.

      March 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jailtime for cheaters

    Start sending collegiate cheaters to jail and watch how fast those youngsters stop cheating. HS cheaters would go to juevinile hall and scrub toilets. Besides, we should be more concerned with NOT graduating kids who don't even know the 3 R's without a laptop and an internet connection.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Yes because our jails or so under crowded we have room for test cheaters.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Just what we don't need, another criminal law! What we actually need is to do away with the SAT and the ACT. Both have proven to be inaccurate indicators of success in college. I did not do well on them and I graduated from a very good school with a 3.5 GPA. For those who advocate jail time for cheaters, you just make prisons more overcrowded and hurt tax payers more because you are on an unrealistic moral bend. You make it more difficult for these kids to compete in the workplace when you slap a criminal record on them. Before you make such statements, consider the long-term consequences.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Harry

      Lets not waste more money putting these incompitent people in jail.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nat

      Matt: how did you get into a good school with a crappy score?

      March 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jailtime for cheaters

    When I was a kid in school you could tell who the cheaters were. They were the kids with ruler marks on the backs of their cheating hands, and if caught again, paddle marks on their cheating asses. Since these high-tech anti-cheating devices were banned, cheating has skyrocketed as has the use of this phrase: "How many more times do I have to tell you to stop cheating?"

    March 27, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Geoz

      Yea... when did we get away from beating? Society is so much better when we have beatting. Or mabey not.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Do you want to foot the bill for imprisoning cheaters? I sure as hell don't! Try getting a job with a criminal record beyond Wendys or McDonalds. You take someone that might have potential but made a minor mistake in the grand scheme of things and punish them for life. Great idea! Do you plan on running for office because you have solutions to problems that sound exactly like a politician's.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  4. Don't support Rice

    When did the DA for nassau county become an expert on testing procedures and start driving test requirements for the whole nation?

    March 27, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  5. lsat

    LSAT already does this

    March 27, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  6. HenryMiller

    This is just sad. I took the SATs in 1970. No photo IDs, no IDs of any kind, and so far as I can remember, if there was ever any cheating at all, it was rare. The country has come a long way down...

    March 27, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Nat

      That is because when you were a kid many states did not have photos on IDs and tests had to be taken at their own school which meant the administrators knew the students.

      March 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Geoz

    I"m sure to you it is a small thing. To me it is the nurse who cheated on measuring the right dosage, the engineer who doesn't really know if the building will stand... it is China leading the way in innovation because of slackers like you.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jerry Madoff

    You know, the only reason SAT scores might be on the decline is for their efforts to curb cheating... 20 years ago, I remember how easy it was (paper testing). I took a pocket dictionary with me, and during the break I went to the bathroom and looked up all the words I hadn't know the meaning of, then went back and filled in the answers. Great verbal score, which helped land a great academic scholarship.. cheating can give you an advantage. Ah, kids today have it so much harder. I say, go for it kids! Beat the system, just be smart about it and don't get caught !!

    March 27, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  9. ZandH

    I heard so many stories of cheating in college. A husband went to class for her & took exam for her, her Chinese name was difficult for the professor to detect the gender. A Chinese girl bragged around she had different boyfriends to do homework for her, and lied she was burnt couldn't go to the class, all homework and exam were take-home which I happened to find her looked perfect from the top to toes. Not only did it happen in small college, privilege colleges do it too. Some white students paid some Chinese brilliant computer students did projects and homework for them, it happens all the time around the country. Even worse, some Chinese students' projects were stolen by their professors. Cheating all around the campus.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. What Now

    Geoz...Thank you. It is important to me also. I have watched cheaters get scholarship money, receive high praise for making the highest grade on homework assignments and papers while those who actually earned their grades were passed over or ignored. Now, we wonder why so many companies complain about students abilities once they leave college. Cheating is always a big thing.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sofa King

    Cheating is what our system is all about. We're just not supposed to admit it.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. BOMBO ©

    There's a way around everything. I would just get somebody who looks a bit like me to write it for me. In my case, that would be Rasputin or Aqualung.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      BOMBO, you never cease to crack me up....the Mad Monk, maybe, but AQUALUNG?? Lmfao!!

      March 27, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bernard

    I took the SATs in 2002 before all of this nonsense - if I am recalling correctly, the conditions made it rather difficult to cheat as they were. This seems like it's just going too far ... probably just a measure to justify further hikes in the test costs.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      Did you even read the article? They explicitly stated that they have a reserve fund for this exact type of thing and that they won't have to increase costs to students.

      March 27, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Meghan

    Here's what the real problem is with the SAT's. The tests are too long already, and don't accurately reflect information needed in order to succeed in college. The test is a simply a measure of your test-taking abilities, and how well you can perform under pressure to solve a varying degree of math and english problems. It completely negates other areas of interest like science or history, subject which are just as important. By adding this step, you simply make the test more difficult in that a 6 hour endeavor will probably now take up to 7 hours as most of the testing sites are packed to the gills with students taking an exam. If you want to prevent cheating, change the exam so that students will feel like they are prepared when they study and that the information they've learned all through high school will be useful. Kids cheat because they're scared of failing, they feel they have no other options, or because they don't care enough to work for it. Two of those three reasons can be eliminated if we make a test that accurately grades based on what it says it should, rather than putting students through the ringer to find out how long they can last. There will always be cheaters...this new measure won't stop them

    March 27, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. BOMBO ©

    What's the old saying, "If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying"? Personally, I've always found written tests really easy. I'm lucky.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
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