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)
  1. Nat

    For those talking about the use of IDs.

    The photo ID part is nothing new so that is not an issue. One always had to produce one when entering an exam area.

    The change is that the same ID has to presented at registration, will be cheeked against the registration one at the test and then will be seen by the HS counselor at the HS when the scores arrive. This is a good thing.

    March 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. cf

    Because many students don't yet have their drivers license, the ACT accepted various other forms of photo identification back when I took the test, including a newspaper story or yearbook page that included a clear photo of the student and identified them in the caption. A number of students in my class used this method, though it seemed to me like an easy way to cheat (if you had the proper resources). In the modern age of Photoshop and digital editing, it's good they are taking the extra precaution to curb such cheating.

    March 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • db

      A US passport can get applied for at any age and is an official means of identification world wide. What is wrong with requiring everyone to have a Passport?

      March 27, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nat

    Joey: Isn't that supposed to be thermo dynamics? I hope you do not work in the field. Nothing like someone who cheated being relied on for their knowledge. In today's world oyu usually wither do not get to take the bathroom break or oyu are escorted and cannot take anything out of the room. Guess people like you caused that rule.

    March 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Michelle

    Good idea, but the way that the voting faces backlash because of being required to have an I.D, makes me think that lawsuits will be filed for 'alleged discrimination'.

    March 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nat

      Michelle: IDs are ALREADY REQUIRED and have been for some time. This is just that they have to be presented at registration and will go with the test scores to the school. Folks ID checks are NOT NEW.

      March 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • db

      Didn't your school issue you a student ID card each year with a photo on it? Some even come with a coded ID that can be read by a scanner.

      March 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff

    These tests are USELESS anyway. All they do is fund the college/student loan racket........ The school system is obsolete when your 4th grader comes home and is doing long division. What a JOKE.

    March 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nat

      Jeff: Bet you love your job pumping gas or pushing paper...You are right, our doctors, scientists, researchers., etc need only a 4th grade education.

      March 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • suominainen

      The SAT -tests are not "useless". There has to be some kind of "measuring stick" for colleges to have an idea which students are most likely to succeed in rigorous courses that colleges have. Just to get in, they have to sort out the students somehow. Correct? Our kids did really well on SAT-tests ( between 750 – 800 in SAT I and in Subject Tests )and got accepted into excellent schools.

      March 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • GershwynnJay

      Jeff: I agree with you almost entirely. A large part of the education system is a racket. It's basically like a brothel for studies. You pay to get in, and the more you pay, the better 'connections' or 'contacts' you make. There is no difference in the Math or the History being taught at the Community College versus Harvard. Is there more to American History just because you paid $2000 for a class versus $200? I would hope not. The system just wants to bring in as many students as possible so they can build up Loan interests, regardless of what usefulness the students may find in college. As I've said before, any idiot with a High School Degree and $20 can get into college. The whole thing is a joke.

      Nat: It is true that doctors and engineers need higher education which can be quite complex, but we all know the SAT is not the determining factor. Early age career exposure and personality profiles would be more useful, along with a decent upbringing. We need to implement Vocational Studies and Schools in order to keep the people who don't belong in college from thinking they need to be there. The problem is this society looks down upon those programs because no one wants to be labeled as dumb or inferior, so the sheep must go to college just like everyone else. We all know this, the government knows this, and so we have the SAT: a toll booth for college.

      March 27, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nat

    Amazing how many people here cheated on their exams....no wonder we import all our scientific and computer skills from overseas.

    March 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. db

    This is not going to fly. This is why we have affrimative action and freedom. Why should I show an ID to prove I am not a cheat! I can bypass the entire SAT/ACT system and just push the afirmative action button and get in regardless of what this stupid test proves or does not prove. Who needs it, it is as old as my father and he starts high school next week!

    March 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. onepercenter

    Will Eric Holder start crusading against this? IDs are required to cash a check, buy Sudafed and take the SAT – that's okay but requiring an ID to vote is racist.

    March 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. svscnn

    In today's world, the students adept enough to pull off a stunt like this are probably best suited to cope with corporate America than the honest ones.

    And they've probably already been recruited.

    March 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Unfortunately, I think this is true.
      Sad.

      March 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. boyamidumb

    Come on, we are teaching our kids by example that the ends justify the means. Do whatever you have to do to get ahead or you are a failure. You can make up for the bad you do later – when you can afford it. It starts with the little things, the little lies and then it grows and grows until it takes down an economy and an entire country.

    Good job parents.

    March 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      One needs to look no further to our elected officials for an another example...

      March 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. rika33

    Rich kid fraud – most likely they learned from their parents.

    March 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. RG

    Now what about the High school tha conspires with the student? in private high schools I could see it happen..There is way to much emphasis but on these tests

    March 27, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Koobie

    For those of you mentioning taking the SAT in 7th grade, you sure it wasn't the Stanford Achievement Test? I remember taking that "SAT" in the 7th grade. And that score was largely used to see if we could take HS level classes in the 8th grade (we'd take a class at the HS in the morning, then bus to the middle school for the rest of the day).

    March 27, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. zzzzzz

    These tests should be taking at the kids' home room at school. Teachers recognize their own students (without student IDs), so less cheating will occur (involving other people taking the tests for others).

    March 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. spyder

    i am a hi skool gradate n kam spel and reed reel gud. 2+2 .. Let me get my calculator... as long as they push students through school , dont want to fail/hold them back, hurt their self esteem. America will continue to dumb down, while asia will continue to promote best and brightest.

    March 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • suominainen

      Scandinavia and Asia.

      March 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • GershwynnJay

      Spyder: You are absolutely correct. Education is a whole network, framework, 'web', of foolishness and apathy. I have friends who care about education and are teachers, and they are hindered by higher powers and parents from doing their actual job(teaching things). The higher powers are hindered by even higher powers and so on. The parents are hindered by wanting the kids to look good on college applications, etc. The kid is failing, but the school wants to reflect good passing percentages, and the teacher will get in trouble if the kids don't pass, while at the same time the parents are angry because their child is doing poorly and it won't look good to prospective schools but they don't want to take the time to work with their child at home and expect the school to babysit the kid and teach also, and the kids of course don't give a crap because they just want to text and play video games, etc. The current solution to this is to lower the bar so Jimmy can pass and move on and go to college. So where is the real answer? Who knows. (I know this is a horrible run-on and the grammar is bad, but there's no time for that, just move on to the next posting.)

      March 27, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
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