Teen denies cheating on SATs: 'I won't let anybody take my dreams away from me'
A teen who improved her SAT score by more than 300 points now stands accused of cheating on the college admission test.
Kamilah Campbell, 18, an honors student and dancer at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School in Miami, Fla., was recently informed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and College Board (organizations that conduct the exam) that her SAT score of 1,230 is invalid.
Campbell took the test in March and earned a 900 (1,600 is a perfect score). But she hadn’t studied much beforehand and she wanted to improve, so in October, Campbell took the test again, after spending the summer working with a private tutor and resources from the Khan Academy, an SAT-prep company.
She then received a score of 1,230, more than 300 points above her original.
A few weeks later, Campbell received letters from ETS’s Testing Integrity department, stating that her score had been flagged for review and that she would hear back in six weeks.
Campbell says when she called ETS for an update, according to a Jan. 1st demand letter from her lawyer Ben Crump, she was told that because her second score was much higher than the first, she may have had “prior knowledge” of the test.
In December, a letter from ETS informed Campbell that “based on a preliminary review, there appears to be substantial evidence that your scores on the October 6th, 2018 SAT are invalid” due to “substantial agreement between your answers on one or more scores sections of the test and those of other test-takers.”
Campbell was given three options: Retake the test with no charge and have the score count as long as they are within six points of the last one; cancel her scores and get a refund for the test fee; or consult an arbitrator.
ETS provided Yahoo Lifestyle a copy of the letter sent to Campbell, noting that, due to student privacy issues, individual notices wouldn’t normally be made public. However, since Campbell’s lawyer has provided certain pieces of information to the public, ETS is free to address specific facts. The letter sent to Yahoo Lifestyle does not mention that Campbell’s improved scores were a factor in the investigation.
Without her approved SAT scores, Campbell missed the Jan. 1st application deadline for Florida State University’s prestigious dance program and now won’t be considered for a scholarship, despite her qualifying score. And although ETS has no proof that Campbell cheated, she is not being afforded due process, says Crump.
According to WSVN, Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, even contacted David Coleman, the College Board president, on the student’s behalf.
Daisy Gonzalez-Diego, chief communications officer for the school district, tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “This is a disturbing allegation that could have a troubling impact on one of our students. Although this is a test administered by a private entity, and not [Miami-Dade County Public Schools], we feel a moral obligation to intervene. As such, the Superintendent has already reached out to the highest levels of leadership at the College Board and has received assurances that the matter will be swiftly reviewed.”
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If Campbell’s SAT scores are not released in the next 14 days, says Crump, “We will move forward with exploring every possible legal remedy available to give Kamilah the justice she deserves.”
Crump did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment.
“I studied and I focused to achieve my dreams… I won’t let ETS or anybody else take my dreams away from me,” Campbell said Wednesday in a press conference. Crump called Campbell’s case a civil rights violation. “There may be some implicit bias that we plan to find out,” he said.
A College Board representative says it follows strict procedures when it comes to these types of investigations.
“When it comes to test security, we have consistent, established procedures to follow to ensure that all students have a fair chance to show their best work and that the scores we deliver to colleges are valid,” the spokesperson tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Working with ETS, our test security and administration provider, we place test scores under review when statistical analyses and other factors determine it is necessary. When scores are under review, we work directly with students to collect relevant information and make determinations about the validity of the test scores following a comprehensive investigation of the evidence. We do not cancel scores based on a score gain alone; we will only cancel scores after we are confident that there is substantial evidence to do so.”
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