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L.I. Cheating Scandal Prompts Sweeping Security Changes For SAT, ACT

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VP SAT College Board Kathryn Juric, Nassau DA Kathleen Rice, ACT VP Charles Smith (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

VP SAT College Board Kathryn Juric, Nassau DA Kathleen Rice, ACT VP Charles Smith (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

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MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Officials announced new security measures for standardized test-takers on Tuesday aimed at preventing another testing scandal like the one that rocked Long Island.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports

Students taking the SAT and ACT from now on will first have to pass an identity test, which includes state-of-the-art photo recognition, enhanced handwriting analysis and more testing at home school sites, among others.

The changes come after a cheating scandal put 20 former and current students in handcuffs and exposed some major weaknesses in the system, particularly when it came to verifying the identity of students taking the test.

The new security measures are aimed at closing that gap.

WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reports

“They are putting in place a security procedure that’s going to be second to none,” said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. “That’s going to, I believe, seriously cut down on the ability for people to do this if not eliminate it altogether.”

Rice has been working with officials from the College Board and the ACT since the cheating scandal broke last year when Sam Eshoghoff, the alleged ringleader, admitted to charging students up to $3,500 to take their tests using fake IDs.

“Started with some kid approaching me. He’s like, ‘Yo, you’re good on your SATs and I’m not,” Eshoghoff said during an interview on 60 Minutes.

Rice called Eshaghoff an “academic gun for hire” and says the changes are “extremely necessary.” She’s also pushing for greater deterrents, such as preventing a cheater from re-taking the test for a year.

“We have closed the loopholes,” Rice said. “Going forward, it’s going to be very difficult for someone to pay someone or have someone take the test for them.”

Students will now be required to upload a picture of themselves when they register for the SAT or ACT. That photo will be printed on their admission ticket and at the test site roster as well as being tacked onto scores as they’re reported back to high schools and colleges.

It will also be stored in a database which will be available to admissions officials.

“Score integrity can then be reinforced by the people who know the students best, the teachers and counselors at their high schools,” said Charles Smith, vice president of ACT Education.

IDs of test takers will be checked frequently, including on arrival, after breaks and when students hand in their answers.

Testing companies will conduct “spot checks” with enhanced security at random locations which may include retina scanning and handwriting analysis.

And as part of the complete overhaul, standby test registration will be eliminated and proctors will receive extra training to help them identify cheaters.

The testing companies say they, not students, will pay for the extra security measures. The new security protocol is expected to be implemented nationwide and is set to start next fall.

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