Students taking SAT and ACT college entrance exams this fall will have to submit photo IDs with their applications after a widespread cheating scandal at a number of New York high schools, officials announced Tuesday.
The security change is one of a number of initiatives nationwide following the arrest of 20 current or former high school students accused in a cheating scheme. Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said some of the students were paid as much as $3,500 to stand in for other students on the SAT exam, a key barometer for many colleges determining admissions.
"Those who try to cheat will be caught. A fake ID simply won't work to game the system anymore," Rice told Newsday during a press conference on Tuesday. "The problem is that we have kids who think cheating pays ... We have to disabuse them of that idea. If we don't, they're going to be the corrupt -- fill in the blank -- politicians, CEOs, of the future."
She said 50 students were likely involved in the New York scheme, but she only had evidence to arrest 20. The prosecution cases against the 20 students are still pending.
Rice complained that security procedures were too lax, and was particularly incensed when she learned that one male student allegedly stood in for a female on one occasion. She said students have easy access to phony identification cards, making it difficult for administrators at testing sites to determine if a student is actually who he or she claims to be.
During the 2010-11 school year, the SAT was administered to nearly 3 million students worldwide; 1.6 million students took the ACT in 2011.
"We are committed to ensuring that every student has the opportunity to pursue higher education," Kathryn Juric, vice president of SAT at the College Board, told Newsday.
The new testing requirements include making students upload a photograph of themselves when they register for the SAT or ACT. Those unable to upload a photo will be permitted to mail in a photo, which will be scanned by the testing agency.
Then, an admission ticket into the testing site, containing the scanned photo, will be mailed to the student.
The photo will not only be printed on the admission ticket, but on the test site roster, and can be checked against the photo ID a student provides at the test center. That photo will be attached to students' scores as they are reported to high schools and colleges.
Other changes include checking student IDs more frequently at test centers; IDs will be checked when students enter a test site, and whenever they re-enter the test room after breaks, and again when the answer sheets are collected.
Testing companies also may conduct "spot checks" with enhanced security at random test locations, or where cheating is suspected. Proctors also will receive additional training to help them identify cheaters and high school and college officials will receive more information about reporting suspected cheating to testing companies.
A spokesman for The College Board noted that some of the security enhancements were developed in consultation with a security firm run by former FBI Director Louis Freeh.
"By implementing these changes, the College Board and ETS can maintain an honest and fair testing environment for the millions of students who take the SAT each year as part of the college admission process," said a statement issued by the College Board.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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