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March 26, 2019

EXCLUSIVE: College cheating scandal sparks probe of NYC test security

March 14, 2019
Actress Felicity Huffman is seen inside the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Los Angeles, on March 12, 2019. – Two Hollywood actresses including Felicity Huffman are among 50 people indicted in a nationwide university admissions scam. (DAVID MCNEW / AFP/Getty Images)

The cheating scandal has already prompted gatekeepers in the country’s largest school district to examine security measures for giving college entrance exams.

In New York City, the SAT college entrance exam is administered to all eligible students who wish to take the test, with school staffers as proctors.

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Roughly 61,800 high school juniors took the SAT at city schools in 2018, according to Education Department data.

The test is given during the school day and free of charge, in an effort to boost participation rates for the widely used college aptitude test.

Council member Mark Treyger
Council member Mark Treyger (William Alatriste /New York City Council)

But now city Council Education Chair Mark Treyger, a former public school teacher, said he’s conducting an informal probe of security protocols around the exam, based on his own experience proctoring standardized tests in city schools.

“There are plenty of loopholes that leave room for someone to cheat or alter exams,” said Treyger. “I have staff looking into it.”

Treyger said the wide-ranging Varsity Blues scandal, in which wealthy parents are accused of paying people to take admissions tests in the place of their children, raises strong concerns about the way the tests are given in New York City and in school districts across the country.

“It really calls into question of how all of this is handled,” he said. “We have to dig deeper on the vetting of the proctors who give the exams.”

A spokesman for the College Board, which administers the SAT, said many measures are already in place to prevent cheating.

“The arrests resulting from an investigation conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts send a clear message,” said Board spokesman Jerome White. “Those who facilitate cheating on the SAT – regardless of their income or status – will be held accountable.”

A spokeswoman for the city Education Department said test security protocols in New York City public schools include a mandatory reporting procedure, which instructs individuals who observe or suspect misconduct to report it immediately.

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