Cheating scandals have recently captured nationwide attention.
One developing investigation may impact a keystone of college applications, the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). New York Times writer Jenny Anderson reports in an investigation centered on an SAT testing scam.
When Samuel Eshaghoff, a 19-year-old sophomore at Emory University, was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly accepting money to take the SAT for six Long Island high school students, testing officials said it was an isolated event. But school officials and prosecutors disagree, and a continuing investigation is focusing on other schools and students.
“I do believe it’s more systemic than just Great Neck North,” said Kathleen M. Rice, the district attorney for Nassau County.
Ms. Rice brought criminal charges against Mr. Eshaghoff and misdemeanor charges against six current and former Great Neck North students who said Mr. Eshaghoff took the test for them. Five of the six said they paid him a fee of up to $2,500. Mr. Eshaghoff has pleaded not guilty. She said she was investigating two other schools and various other test takers. She said the cheating problem was widespread, a sentiment echoed by school administrators and superintendents.
“As tests have become higher-stakes tests, as the competition between kids for scholarships and college entrance has increased, the likelihood of kids looking for ways to beat the system — to cheat — has increased,” said Henry Grishman, superintendent of Jericho Public Schools on Long Island, which has 3,200 students.
School officials say the testing system has many flaws, most notably the fact that there are no consequences for cheaters. When the Educational Testing Service, the company that administers the test, detects irregularities, it simply notifies the affected students that their scores are being withdrawn.
Neither colleges nor high schools are ever alerted that cheating was suspected. Tom Ewing, an Educational Testing Service spokesman, said that confidentiality laws meant to protect minors prevented his company from disclosing that information. Of 2.25 million SATs taken every year, about 1,000 scores are withdrawn for misbehavior, 99 percent of which are for copying, he said.
Four of the students who said Mr. Eshaghoff took the test for them are in college now; the colleges have not been notified by the testing service of their statements, Ms. Rice said. The other two students are in high school. It is not known whether the school district plans to take action against them.
It seems Eshaghoff was a smart businessman with a heart of gold.
Prosecutors say Mr. Eshaghoff took the tests using a borrowed driver’s license and five fake school ID cards, including one for a girl. She was the only one of the six not to pay Mr. Eshaghoff, and the prosecutor’s office said the two had a “romantic relationship.”
The scores for Mr. Eshaghoff ranged from 2,170 to 2,220, out of a total of 2,400. His lawyer, Matin Emouna, said the matter should have been handled by the school and not in the courts.