Archive for October 26th, 2011

October 26, 2011

New York SAT cheating scandal is expected to lead to more arrests

by Grace

A former FBI chief is coming in to help clean up the SAT cheating mess.

Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board and a former governor of West Virginia, said that in addition to bringing in the former F.B.I. chief, Louis J. Freeh, as a consultant, the College Board was also considering additional safeguards over the next year, including bolstering identification requirements for students taking the SAT and taking digital photographs to ensure they are who they say they are.

Some educators think this action is long overdue and are calling for harsher penalties.

“The procedures E.T.S. uses to give the test are grossly inadequate in terms of security,” Bernard Kaplan, principal of Great Neck North, testified at the hearing. “Furthermore, E.T.S.’s response when the inevitable cheating occurs is grossly inadequate. Very simply, E.T.S. has made it very easy to cheat, very difficult to get caught.”

While the new security measures represent a change of tone for College Board and Educational Testing Service officials who previously insisted their system was adequate, some superintendents and principals said they did not go far enough. These officials have called for fingerprinting students, increasing stipends for proctors and imposing real consequences on those who cheat. Currently, if the testing service suspects cheating, the students’ scores are canceled and they are permitted to retake the test — with no notification to either their high school or colleges where they apply.

Educational Testing Service is already spending about 10% of its budget on security for College Board testing, but whatever they’re doing may not be adequate.  Bernard Kaplan, principal of the high school where the cheating occurred, says this about the problem.

“It is ridiculously easy to take the test for someone else” 

Many young people have fake IDs, which are commonly  “being bought in bulk from vendors in China” and “nearly undetectable by bar employees”.  I imagine SAT test proctors also find it hard to spot them.

Related:  Student cheating – the SAT, the Internet, and Ted Kennedy

(Cross-posted at Kitchen Table Math)


October 26, 2011

Obama administration offers student loan relief

by Grace

President Obama is expected to announce two initiatives aimed at easing the burden of paying back student loans.

1.  Earlier start date for enhanced Income-Based Repayment Plan

The way it works now is that graduates who enroll get charged 15% of their monthly discretionary income to pay off loans, with debt forgiven after 25 years.

Congress passed a law set to go into effect in 2014 that would drop the monthly payment to 10% of discretionary income and would forgive all debt after 20 years. The Obama administration would improve on the law by fast-forwarding the new terms to take effect in 2012, sources say.

The bright spot for the unemployed is that the monthly payments are based on any income above 150% of the poverty line. For a graduate living alone, the payments would be on 15% of any dollars made above $16,335, based on the 2011 poverty line.

And unemployed graduates with no income would owe no monthly payments on their student loans, education experts say.

2.  New provision to allow loan consolidation 

The proposal would impact students with both direct loans and federally backed loans, allowing students to consolidate loans held by private banks into direct loans.

Both kinds of loans are offered at the same interest rate. But having all federal loans consolidated into direct loans could give graduates a chance at forgiveness programs if they work in public service or at nonprofits for a decade.

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