In a cheating scandal that has launched a debate about the security measures on college admissions tests, at least 20 NY students have been accused of being involved, but the numbers are suspected to be higher.
The arrests started in September when 19 year old Sam Eshaghoff was arrested for taking the SAT for at least 6 Great Neck North students. The arrests are coming from some of the best schools in NY. After Eshaghoff was arrested, 8 students were apprehended from around the Long Island area for paying to have the test taken for them. 5 students attended Great Neck North, 2 attended North Shore Hebrew Academy and one attended Roslyn.
The SAT cheating scandal began to be revealed when Great Neck North teachers began to look into rumors that were being circulated about students paying to have the tests taken for them. Upon doing some checking, teachers found six students with big discrepancies between their regular grade point average and the test scores.
The students paid anywhere from $500-$3,500 for the test to be taken for them by Eshaghoff, who used false IDs created with the students names and his picture on them. Students registered for the tests to be taken in other districts than the district they attended school in, so as not to arouse suspicion. In one instance, prosecutors say he took the test for a female student at no charge, although it has not been determined how he passed for her when getting in to take the test. Of all the students arrested, all but one was Iranian-American.
Many people have the opinion that there is too much pressure placed on students with these entrance exams, and while the cheating is not and should not be condoned, it does raise a question as to the high pressure these students may be under to perform at high levels.
Eshaghoff is facing up to four years in prison. His charges include criminal impersonation, scheme to defraud, and falsifying business records. The students who paid to have their tests taken are being charged with misdemeanors and could face up to one year in prison.
Bruce Barket, a Long Island, high profile, criminal defense attorney , stated that the chances of Eshaghoff and the other students facing actual jail time was “virtually impossible” unless the children were organizing and racketeering. Many people believe that the entire situation should have been handled by the schools and not the courts, including Eshaghoff’s lawyer, Matin Emouna, according to a report from the New York Times. “This is a glorified cheating scandal,” said Barket. “In the end, these students were involved in a cheating scandal; they’re not criminals.”
The Education Testing Service takes cheating very seriously, and further investigations include visits to the schools where the cheating took place, examinations of the documentation and possibly even handwriting analysis.
Spokesman for the ETS, Tom Ewing, says “The SAT scores that are generated are used to make important college admission decisions and if we can’t stand behind their validity, we will not report them for use.”
- More Students Charged in Long Island SAT Cheating Case (nytimes.com)
- More students implicated in SAT-cheating scandal (cbsnews.com)