13 New York Students Arrested for SAT Cheating Scandal

Prosecutors from Nassau County, New York, accused 13 more students from five different schools in the area of cheating on the ACT and SAT between 2008 through 2011, bringing the total to 20. A handful of the arrested students have taken the test for someone else, while the rest paid someone anywhere from $500 – $3,500 to take the test in their place, the New York Times recently reported.

This recent scandal is an indictment of our flawed educational and value systems. For many, the Standardized Aptitude Test is touted as the one test that determines your future – what college you are accepted to (which decides your career, your life, and so on) – so it’s no surprise that some students are willing to do anything to make sure their future is the brightest it can be. If students did not feel that their entire worth was boiled down to some statistic, it’s reasonable to believe that they would not be as inclined to cheat.

As long as educational institutions value high scores over soul and character, students will feel compelled to do what is necessary to look good on paper. This is not to say that these students are right to cheat. Though we are all guilty of it at times, cheating is still wrong. Nonetheless, it does bring to light a much bigger issue of how our nation’s emphasis of numbers and profit over people affects the youth.

The investigation began when administrators at Great Neck North High School discovered that six students had paid a seventh to take the standardized test for them. Seven months later, administrators found another 13 participants in the cheating ring. The arrested students face felony charges of scheming to defraud and misdemeanors charges of criminal impersonation. Although it is federal offense, since many of the accused were minors at the time of the crime, some believe it is an issue for the school’s administration, rather than the law.

Although this is the only reported case, there’s no telling how many other students have cheated as well. College Board, the nonprofit company administers the SAT, isn’t taking any risks though. The current president of the organization has hired an outside firm to conduct an independent investigation on the misconduct. This firm also happens to be run by the former head of the FBI, Louis J. Freeh.

Around this time of year, high school seniors across the country are frantically filling out college applications and prepping for the test that is the culmination of everything learned in school. Just saying the word SAT strikes fear to any high schooler’s heart and brings up memories of dread for anyone who with past experience with it. Cheating on a test is nothing new. Even some of my high school teachers waxed nostalgic about the clever ways they passed difficult exams (one of the most creative involved a hearing aid and complicated hand signaling system), but it looks like things have changed since the good ol’ days.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons