If you’ve been reading the news recently, you may have noticed that the SAT is suffering from some serious security issues. While it’s well-known that cheating among Asian test prep companies is rampant (spurred in large part by the College Board’s persistent and absurd reuse of previously-administered US tests in its foreign testing centers), it seems now that hundreds of future official test questions have made their way into public hands.
As Reuters revealed in an exposé posted yesterday on their website, David Coleman and the College Board were warned by an independent consulting group that they needed tighter security in 2013, and again by College Board employees in 2014, but other than canceling some adult registrations for the March 2016 SAT, it seems little else has been done. Now there is a breach of such proportions that even College Board spokeswoman Sandra Riley is admitting it is “a serious criminal matter.” The integrity of the SAT and the College Board is clearly in question.
Further evidence of test flaws arose in May and June of this year, when Manuel Alfaro—the former Executive Director of Assessment Design and Development at College Board—alleged in a series of posts on LinkedIn that the SAT lied about their best test practices despite their claims of transparency. He also asserted that the tests were hastily thrown together without proper vetting of each question. He claimed that there were more serious improprieties he would be revealing in future posts, but his page mysteriously went silent on June 9th, quite possibly after being contacted by the College Board’s lawyers.
Like much of the questionable educational reform in America, the controversial changes that have occurred at the College Board since 2012 were either snuck past parents and the public, or wrapped in rhetoric that any layperson would be hard-pressed to decipher. We have previously expressed concern over the financial implications of David Coleman being both the architect of the Common Core State Standards and the redesigned SAT on several occasions, but until recently he has escaped heavy criticism from mainstream media. Large-scale changes have been made to America’s most venerable standardized test, and it’s apparent that producing enough credible questions is a problem (why else would they reuse questions so frequently?). At the same time, warnings and recommendations from test security experts and in-house staff have apparently been ignored on multiple occasions. David Coleman is the leader of the College Board, and the responsibility for these numerous failures rightly lies with him. We believe that the only acceptable solution to these breaches—and really, the only way to save the integrity of the SAT and begin the long process of repair—is for Coleman to resign immediately. Given the arrogance he has displayed in the past we aren’t counting on him stepping down voluntarily, so it’s up to the College Board: admit responsibility, remove David Coleman, and immediately repair your broken test security system. The future of millions of college applicants is at stake.
Image: "Gold Lock" courtesy of Mark Fischer