Reliable Tests, Unreliable Test-takers

December 2, 2011
Posted by Jay Livingston

Great Neck is the epicenter of the cheating scandal – SATs, ACTs, fake IDs, hefty fees.  High schoolers, or their families, paid the smart ringers as much as $3600 to take the exam for them. 

The Times front page story today (here) notes that Great Neck, using the fake ID of West Egg, was the setting for The Great Gatsby, and the stories – fiction set in 1922, reality set in 2011 – are rich territory for comparison.  Success, ambition, wealth, opulence, envy.

One student
was offered cash to take the test by a more popular student. Eager to impress, and perhaps get closer to the other student’s friends, he agreed, officials said; later, he scored a 31 on the ACT under the same student’s name.
Could that name have been Tom Buchanan?

Maybe there’s even an unrequited love story that didn’t make the papers.

But for the statistically minded, there’s this:
Samuel Eshaghoff, a 2010 Great Neck North graduate, scored in the 2,100 range (out of 2,400) on his own SATs; he is accused of taking tests for at least 15 people over three years, and the people briefed on the inquiry said he obtained scores for them between 2,170 and 2,220 on the SAT.
Those numbers, though they might be barely remarked by most Times readers, are probably the lede in the ETS edit of the story.  The testing company might be faulted on security (“two of the people for whom [Mr. Eshagoff] is accused of taking the tests after showing a fake ID were girls”).

But fifteen takes with scores no more than 50 (of 2400) points apart – how’s that for reliability, old sport?

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