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. aj

    I dont understand how there's a problem. When I went to school and took my ACT, they took us in small groups, put us in the caffeteria and we had huge blinders (cardboard) stacked on the tables like desktop cubicles. Never had 1 cheating instance when I was there years ago.

    March 27, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      the problem is that effective cheating means nobody is caught. You may have just been subjected to more cheating than is going on now.

      March 27, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phil in Oregon

      Kids from other schools would go take the tests for their 'clients.'

      March 27, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jonas

      Do realize that the article is about people hiring other people to take the test for them? This isn't preventing people from more "traditional" way of sneaking a peak or hiding some sort of cheat sheet (which would be useless for a test like the SAT/ACT).

      March 27, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      We're not talking about looking off other students' test. We're talking about students cheating by taking the SAT/ACT for other people. In other words, students paying other students to take the test and score well for them is becoming a bigger and bigger problem.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Phil Hersh

      Genius they are talking about people who take the test for someone else not someone who copies. Duh!

      March 28, 2012 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
    • read the article

      It's not that they are cheating by looking at other people's test. They are cheating by having other people show up with fake ID's and taking the test for them.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Leif

      How do you know there was no cheating?

      March 28, 2012 at 5:11 am | Report abuse |
  2. rh

    Why would a student under driving age have a photo ID? Or will they be trusting students not to fake a HS ID?

    March 27, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      My kids have had student photo ID's from their school from first grade on.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  3. Holidae Crawford

    Maybe if colleges wouldn't put so much importance on those 2 test then people might stop cheating. Also if the tests werent so culturally bias then kids probably also wouldnt cheat. Some people just arent good at standardized test and I feel like the test do not gear the intelligence of a child. There needs to be a change

    March 27, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Collin

      They are not culturally biased. They are standard questions that you should have learned through your high school experience. How else would the intelligence of a child be tested? Just because someone gets good grades doesn't mean that he is intelligent. The tests separate those that receive good grades from those that are truly smart.

      March 27, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dakota2000

      The original purpose of the sat was to identify smart kids who should be given a shot at the Ivy Leagues even if they went to mediocre (for Ivy league that means public) schools.

      So the intentions where good.

      March 27, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Turd

      You are an idiot. Testing isn't biased, its entirely objective, answers are cut and dry. It's not easy, nor is school. Pay attention, it's free. Don't blame your stupidity on your race or culture, blame it on your lack of effort.

      March 27, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • power4things

      OK, you didn't do so good on the tests, you don't take tests well, blah, blah. Sweetie, you will be taking "tests" the rest of your life, particularly if you are in a job that required college, and it's the only way anyone has figured out to conveniently and cheaply guage potential in higher education. If you have a better idea (which apparently you do not), let's hear it, you could make a billion – 4-year college attrition rates are close to 50%. In the meantime, maybe not everyone is college material, the world needs Wal-Mart checkers, too.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      I couldn't have said it any better myself. This whole school system is ridiculous. It's hard to make it in life without a college degree. You can't get a college degree unless you're able to afford it. Most kids get loans as if they're free candy and end up so much in debt after college graduation, they work the rest of their lives trying to pay it off.
      Other countries are doing it right. They don't put too much emphasis on a higher education unless you really want it. So many kids are wasting time in money in universities for degrees that are virtually worthless and not much is being put into the work force.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. Dakota2000

    IF there were scientific evidence that the SAT or ACT strongly predicted success in life THEN cheating would matter.

    Solution: Let everyone cheat and then we would all be equal.

    March 27, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      Spoken from complete ignorance. Must be a Democrat.

      March 27, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Phil in Oregon

    They could throw in an ICE check and ditch all the illegals while they're at it.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dazzle©

    This topic is bizarre and so are the many subsequent responses. I remember taking the SAT in 1980 and the only pressure I felt was what I placed on me. Teachers in my high school were the proctors and we were seated classroom style. Not one of us in my class of 1000 would even consider cheating. Much to my horror, I had an uncontrollable laughing fit when the boy next thought it was cool to emit a very loud and horribly stinky fart. I was asked to leave the room until I could "get myself under control." To me I was mortified because of the time constraints. I was also concerned that my teachers would be disappointed in me. My final scores were good enough to earn me a very generous scholarship BUT I was not accepted at The Univ of Va. What happened to the days where every teacher knew every student by first and last name? BTW, the cultural bias is simply rubbish.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. meh

    cheaters adapt

    March 28, 2012 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  8. Seriously?

    Yes... because they won't just submit the same picture that's already on their fake ID... idiots...

    March 28, 2012 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  9. Erisian

    I wonder whether they consulted with Derrick Rose when planning this.

    March 28, 2012 at 2:57 am | Report abuse |
  10. Diplomad

    So we have to show photo id to take a test, but not to vote . . . . this seems like a great burden on the poor, no?

    March 28, 2012 at 4:13 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jorge

    Unfortunately there are school districts where teacher proctors will enable cheating in order to fulfill an implicit mandate to make the district look good, especially the districts where a good-ole'-boy network mentality prevails and which have a reputation for less-than-stellar performance.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
    • ©

      @Jorge, much of the cheating teachers are seen on the AIMS tests that are administered on the local school level. Performance pay for teachers and funding for the school are based on these test scores. It brings out the worst in some teachers and they should be fired at once along with any sleazy administrators that encourage this. This is where independent procotors should be brought in and tests need to be locked in a safe where no one that has a stake in the score outcome, has the combination.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  12. scir91onYouTube

    what is the point of cheating? you only cheat yourself. what a joke.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
  13. Scott B

    Way too excessive. Then again it's wrong to have these tests matter so much in the first place.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  14. PandoraDoggl

    This is obviously a ploy to keep minorities out of college, because a smaller proportion of minorities have photo ID!

    March 28, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  15. racefan111

    Interesting choice of picture above.

    March 28, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
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