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    #245003 - 03/12/19 09:22 AM xtra time on tests: alleged college admission scam
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4481
    The following breaking news reports may serve as a cautionary tale:

    TMZ - https://www.tmz.com/2019/03/12/felicity-...s-bribery-scam/
    Originally Posted By: TMZ article about college placement consultant, William Rick Singer
    The alleged scam was reportedly unearthed after authorities found a California businessman who ran an operation helping students get into the college of their choice. Authorities say parents would pay the man a predetermined amount which he would funnel to an SAT or ACT administrator or a college athletic coach.

    The feds say if the money went to a college coach ... the coach would arrange a fake profile that listed the student as an athlete. If the money went to an exam administrator, the administrator would either hire a proctor to take the SAT/ACT or correct the student's answers.


    FoxNews - https://www.foxnews.com/us/college-entrance-exam-cheating
    Originally Posted By: FoxNews report on college entrance exam cheating
    daughter reportedly had twice the normal amount of time to take the SAT, and her proctor was paid to correct her answers after she completed the test.
    ...
    many parents involved [in] the scheme obtained letters from their children's therapists explaining that they needed more time for the standardized tests as a way for their children to take the exams privately with paid proctors who would correct the students' errors.


    USA Today - https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2019...rts/3139204002/
    Originally Posted By: USA article on admissions counselor
    Prosecutors say Singer operated a college counseling organization called "The Key," which he used to accept more than $25 million in payments from parents from 2011 through Feb. 2019. He's accused of funneling money to coaches and others to guarantee admission to elite schools such as Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, the University of Southern California, UCLA, the University of Texas and Wake Forest University.
    The California-based college counseling organization which was mentioned: "The Key" (archived), on the WayBackMachine, Internet archive.

    Additional details may be forthcoming over time.


    Disclaimer: All parties are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

    Updates... Related posts:
    - Many students get extra time on SAT (May 2019)
    - Ivy League Admissions (Nov 2019)

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    #246754 - 02/08/20 08:53 PM Re: xtra time on tests: alleged college admission scam [Re: indigo]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4481
    Over the past year, concern about college admissions has evidently become part of the national consciousness, as shown by a recent TV commercial for a product with broad appeal and a wide audience... which alludes to this situation.

    Snickers candy bars has been running a series of TV commercials with a comical theme of feeding planet Earth giant Snickers bars to literally make the world a better place. One ad in this series indicates the world would be a better place without college admissions scams:

    View '#SnickersFixTheWorld:Chancellor' courtesy of iSpot.tv
    Originally Posted By: TV commercial, courtesy of iSpot.tv
    Monitoring the giant hole dug into the earth in order to feed the world a supersized Snickers, Luis Guzman asks a "college admissions guy" how his selection process is going. Considering his progress so far, the man notes that he hasn't been offered a bribe by any B-list celebrities on behalf of their underachieving offspring... so that's good! Encouraged, the actor can only conclude that "the Snickers hole" is working -- rich people canít buy their kids straight Aís now that Snickers fixed the world.


    A link to a related post (survey on parental willingness to scam college admissions):
    Ivy League Admissions, in the General Discussion Forum. (Post from Nov 2109, thread started July 2013.)

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    #248467 - 03/31/21 02:42 PM Re: xtra time on tests: alleged college admission scam [Re: indigo]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4481
    This college admissions scandal has come to be known as "Operation Varsity Blues."

    Over the past 2 years, it has had far-reaching negative impacts, including the loss experienced by the faceless, nameless students who would have been admitted in the spots taken by students whose parents, aided by an admissions counseling service, participated in unethical practices.

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    #248471 - 03/31/21 05:33 PM Re: xtra time on tests: alleged college admission scam [Re: indigo]
    Wren Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/14/08
    Posts: 1644
    I watched the documentary. I don't understand how easy it was to get extra time for the SAT or ACT. Like today, a mother told me her daughter qualified to jump the line for the vaccine (an 18 year old) as disabled. She has some learning issues. The kid is in 12th grade going to a decent university. How easy is it to say a kid is learning delayed (disabled)? Kind of defeats the purpose to have a standardized test. I know it has been discussed in this forum, but if you require extra time on the test, won't you need special accommodations throughout your university time?

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    #248472 - 03/31/21 05:54 PM Re: xtra time on tests: alleged college admission scam [Re: Wren]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4481
    BTW, here's a link to the documentary info and official trailer: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt14111734/

    Yes, it seems that anyone needing extra time on the high-stakes test would also need academic accommodations ongoing. But the focus seemed to shift to participation in college sports.

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    #248475 - 04/01/21 04:46 AM Re: xtra time on tests: alleged college admission scam [Re: indigo]
    Wren Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/14/08
    Posts: 1644
    In the documentary, it was either/or. Either Peter Singer arranged extra time/got someone to change scores on the ACT or he arranged to pretend they played a sport. I was shocked how much the Yale soccer coach was willing to play for pay. He was getting as many kids in as possible on soccer recruitment.

    It was never clear whether the sailing coach at Stanford actually got anyone in for sailing or just took the money. Sailing at Stanford was actually the best of top schools. There was someone who got gold at Pan Am games in 2019.

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    #248477 - 04/01/21 09:29 AM Re: xtra time on tests: alleged college admission scam [Re: indigo]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2411
    You want to get to the root cause re: accommodations? These accommodations are approved by accredited professionals. MDs or PsyDs/CPsychs should not be providing accommodation letters for students who don't meet diagnostic criteria, and their fraudulent behaviour should have meaningful licensing consequences.

    If it's such an issue of fraud, universities or testing authorities could conduct case history audits to ascertain the veracity of the dx. If resources are scarce, audits could even focus on new diagnoses within 2 years of critical testing/admissions dates.

    There is nothing new under the sun. Insurance has been dealing with fraud since its inception.

    As to athletic scholarships, I have never understood the American fascination with PSE/sport cross-overs and the existence of athletic scholarships. University is about learning, not putting some projectile in some receptacle, or doing X faster or more accurately than someone else. There are enough other venues for athletic competition. And, for most university franchises, the sports outfits aren't even NPV positive.

    Full disclosure: in undergrad, I opted not to play my varsity sport because the training schedule would have had me training 30-40 hours per week. I wasn't willing to commit that level of effort to something that would not yield major results, and I wasn't going to be Olympics competitive with less time. How could anyone possibly top their program, and make meaningful inroads into the research, starting out with a half schedule? Likewise, how can you podium with an impaired sleep schedule and limited time for nutrition and rehab that will naturally flow from academic success? The goals are at odds, and all but a few extremely gifted people will find them mutually exclusive if they want to be truly world-class at both. I was fortunate to have a coach who was consistently ranked 1-3 internationally at the time, who put the calculus to me clearly; the sacrifice is real, and first place is an all-in endeavour.

    (But then, this circles back to the perennial delineation of what university is for.)
    _________________________
    What is to give light must endure burning.

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    #248479 - 04/01/21 01:07 PM Re: xtra time on tests: alleged college admission scam [Re: indigo]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3797
    Professional fraud by assessment and diagnostic professionals is certainly a concern, but what they are falsifying typically has to be actual quantitative test results, which is a much higher level of fraud than borderline accommodations, since the College Board and ACT have their own assessment professionals who review submitted evals. You can't just send in a recommendation for accommodations. It has to be accompanied by an evaluative report, including both scores and interpretive narrative. It doesn't have to be long, but it does have to have data. (I've written some one-pagers for accommodations on Pearson professional assessments--think state licensing boards--but even then the quantitative data had to be there.)

    The other place that is more likely to be fudging qualifications for accommodations is actually school guidance offices, since they are not required to submit evaluations in every case. College Board could audit them, and then they would have to come up with the testing, but rarely does, so they don't.


    Edited by aeh (04/01/21 01:10 PM)
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    #248480 - 04/01/21 01:53 PM Re: xtra time on tests: alleged college admission scam [Re: indigo]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2411
    Quote:
    what they are falsifying typically has to be actual quantitative test results, which is a much higher level of fraud than borderline accommodations


    Makes sense.

    Quote:
    The other place that is more likely to be fudging qualifications for accommodations is actually school guidance offices, since they are not required to submit evaluations in every case. College Board could audit them, and then they would have to come up with the testing, but rarely does, so they don't.


    That's curious. I wonder why College Board wouldn't just institute a blanket requirement for testing and evaluations to be appended in all cases of accommodation, whether supplied by guidance offices or clinicians. Presumably there isn't a lot of marginal work for the guidance office if there is already a clinical eval, is that right? That kind of cursory box check (e.g. is an attachment uploaded? are certain keywords hit? are scores typed in auto-fill fields for the instrument(s) used?) could be audited with AI tech used for electronic medical records.

    Say (I'm making this up) 25% of College Board users require an accommodation. For a share in that ballpark, it's just a question of adjusting the fee structure of the tests across the board to factor in the audit costs. Say it takes 1/4 - 1/2 of a clinical hour for a psychologist to adjudicate a case file at a fee of $200; the expected cost amortized across all tests is $12.50 to $25.00. I imagine you could even have full pass-through of the costs to university partners, who themselves would benefit from a more accurate candidate profile and save costs in their own evaluations from such a measure in that range.

    ETA: Just checked College Board, and there were 2.2MM test takers in the US in 2019. The incremental fee would be $27.5MM - $55MM as above. I can only find data for 2017 on 4-year US colleges: there were ~2,800. If the top 10% covered the incremental costs, that's about $200K each of extra spend for audit quality with the higher figures, with 90% of colleges getting a free ride. If everyone chipped in equally, it's under $20K/year each. That's a drop in the bucket, when you consider potential legal fees and goodwill damage from admissions fraud. I'd take that bet.
    _________________________
    What is to give light must endure burning.

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    #248481 - 04/01/21 02:45 PM Re: xtra time on tests: alleged college admission scam [Re: indigo]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3797
    Correct. There should not be a lot of additional work required by the guidance office. I send our guidance office documents all the time, since they also need to forward my evals to college admissions offices (who will then, as noted earlier, make their own determinations regarding ADA/Section 504 accommodations). And yes, if College Board requests a document, there's already a platform for uploading it. Autofill is a little more work, although I imagine it would not be all that difficult to create.

    I don't want to downplay the value of clinical interpretation, though. For example, I have had a student who did not meet the conventional criteria for calculator accommodations (that is, they were able to perform fairly complex computations, including algebra and other multistep problems), but clearly would not be able to demonstrate their full mathematical ability on an on-demand assessment without one, since they completed all items with multiplication or division components by extremely laborious repeated addition. (Think, multiplying a one digit number by a three digit number by repeated addition of the one-digit number hundreds of times.) Standard scores in math calculations would suggest that this student was a little weak in computations, but not calculator weak. Clinical observation of what it took to attain that slightly below average score would suggest a very different conclusion. A math subtest that typically takes students of comparable intelligence and age about 10 minutes took something like an hour to complete. So there's a student for whom a calculator (and extended time, for that matter) accommodation would arguably allow for a more accurate picture of their college-readiness for math instruction, even though their scores might suggest on the face of it that those would be unfair advantages.

    But certainly distributing the additional cost of hiring some more of my co-professionals to review evaluation documentation seems like it would be a worthwhile expense. Actually, if colleges paid into that system, it could potentially save them some costs on the campus end, since they have to pay staff to review the same documentation to make essentially the same accommodation decisions. College Board could potentially market it as an advisory service, and it would increase the predictive value (maybe) of testing for college performance, since it would address the issue also raised upthread about maintaining the same conditions for instruction. The only problem is that the scores are currently disability-blind (as they should be), so it would have to be something that students consent to after the admissions process is complete. But even so, it would simplify the college accommodations process to the click of a button. That's essentially what selective public high schools like my own do; admissions is competitive but disability-blind, but after we send and receive acceptances, sending schools forward their disability plans (IEPs and 504 accommodation plans).

    Hm...I'll have to think about this a bit in case I am overlooking some critical civil rights or ethical difficulty.


    Edited by aeh (04/01/21 02:48 PM)
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