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College Board tightens SAT security around the globe to fight cheating

In an effort to combat cheating, the College Board — the firm behind the SAT exam — announced new plans to tighten security.

In a news release Tuesday, the firm wrote the new measures “constitute the most robust and direct actions taken by a college entrance exam provider.”

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“There are three fundamental ways we protect the value of the SAT for test takers and score recipients: increasing the pool of test items, increasing security and deterrence, and limiting exposure of test materials by reducing the number of administrations,” said Peter Schwartz, Chief Administrative Officer at the College Board.

Among the many new measures, College Board plans to reduce the number of international testing dates from six per year to four for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years, saying this will reduce opportunities for test content to be stolen.

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But critics such as Bob Schaeffer, education director for the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, told the Washington Post that with the instantaneous global communication through social media and dark websites, there’s no real way to prevent the circulation of test questions.

“The only way to stop unethical test-prep companies and individuals from gaining advance knowledge of upcoming test items is to stop reusing test questions,” Schaeffer said.

Here is a full list of new measures College Board plans to implement, according to the news release:

  • Reducing the international testing dates for the SAT to four for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years, with administrations in October, December, March, and May. Recognizing that international students use both the SAT and SAT Subject Tests to build competitive applications, SAT Subject Tests will be available in October, November, December, May, and June.
  • Canceling the June 2017 international SAT administration, as part of the change to the international test administration schedule. SAT Subject Tests will be available during the June 2017 administration.
  • Providing the names of test prep companies and individuals suspected of stealing and receiving secure test content to law enforcement and other government agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Prohibiting individuals from taking the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and Advanced Placement Exams when they are found to have gained or attempted to gain or share an unfair advantage on any College Board test.
  • Exploring with both colleges and high schools effective ways to share with them – consistent with applicable laws and contractual obligations – whether their applicants or attending students, respectively, have gained or attempted to gain or share an unfair advantage on any College Board test.
  • Increasing test center audits worldwide.
  • Making it easier for students and educators to confidentially and anonymously report suspected cheating.
  • Expanding the College Board's criteria for barring registrants who are taking the SAT for other than one of its intended purposes.

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