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SAT and ACT Test-Takers Face Tighter Security

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 07:49 AM

The SAT cheating scandal involving at least 20 Long Island high school students last fall triggered criminal charges and test-maker recriminations -- and now it will result in tougher security measures for test-takers nationwide.

The College Board's Educational Testing Service, which administers the SAT, and ACT Inc., which administers the ACT -- both of which are used for college admissions -- said students would now be required to submit photos with their applications to take the exams. The photos will be printed on their admissions ticket and on the roster at the testing location.

Students will also be required to list the high school they attend. That school will receive a copy of the photo submitted by the student, to help verify the test-taker's identity.

Another measure, which would require that the photos also be sent to colleges with the test scores, came under fire after the security changes were announced, with some expressing concerns that a photo could sway college admissions.

The announcement of the new security measures was made Tuesday by Kathleen M. Rice, the Nassau County district attorney, who brought cases against 20 students at five Long Island high schools for either taking the SAT for other students or for paying for the test to be taken by an imposter. Jenny Anderson reports in The New York Times on Wednesday that the changes will take place nationwide, in the fall.

The changes, Ms. Rice said, send a message to students who might consider cheating. “They will be caught, and they will be held accountable,” she said. “The old system did not ensure that.”

The Times's report found support for all of the measures except the one requiring a photo to be sent to colleges.

Over all, principals and superintendents welcomed the new measures, many of which they said they had advocated for more than a decade. But no one vowed that the new system would be failproof, given the pressure that the nation’s college admission process places on students and parents, and the willingness of some of them to pay for results.

Also in the news this chilly Wednesday morning, Gotham Schools reported that Educators 4 Excellence, a teachers' group that has sided with reformers and come under fire from teachers' unions, has released a paper recommending changes to how teachers are paid. Gotham reports:

The group’s recommendations include increasing the starting salary by a third; creating a “career ladder” so teachers can be rewarded for strong performance without leaving the classroom; introducing bonuses for teachers who receive top ratings on new teacher evaluations; and paying more to draw teachers to hard-to-staff subjects, such as science or special education.

Right now, Gotham says, the starting salary for teachers is $45,530, and increases are made each year for additional academic credits, among other reasons. The new proposals were made by a team of 16 teachers convened last fall "to study past and current experiments in teacher pay, survey city teachers about their views, and come up with recommendations about how to change the way city teachers are paid."

Gotham said the proposal:

". . . does not side neatly with either Mayor Bloomberg or the UFT. It does not call for merit pay tied to student test scores, which Bloomberg has supported and the city teachers union has said it would never accept, nor does it support Bloomberg’s recent proposal to offer permanent pay raises to teachers who earn top ratings on new evaluations. But it also does not call for union-backed school-wide bonuses of the type distributed under a city program that was aborted after it did not lead to increases in student performance.

“We are not interested in replicating failed experiments. As teachers, we already work hard, and we know that more pay will not make us work harder,” reads the report. “But we do want to be recognized for our successes. We want to build up our supply of excellent teachers by recruiting and retaining professionals who might otherwise choose other fields.”

Gotham Schools' Rise & Shine post has a more complete roundup of what's in the news.

Here's some of what is going on in education on Wednesday:

At 4 p.m., the schools chancellor, Dennis M. Walcott, will be at the High Bridge Public Library in the Bronx to read to children, accompanied by Walkaround Elmo. At 6 p.m., he will attend the District 4 Town Hall at Middle School 45/S.T.A.R.S Prep Academy, 2351 First Avenue, Manhattan.

The Bronx Museum is “adopting” 40 schools in the Bronx to offer arts education classes and programming. It’s one program among many offered in honor of the museum’s 40th anniversary. For more, check out WNYC’s culture page.

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