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Students Face New Worry: Wrongly Scored College-Entry Tests

I'm Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Education Report.

About five hundred thousand students took the SAT college-admissions test last October. The College Board, which owns the test, says about five thousand of them received wrong scores.

The problem became known after two students questioned their scores. They asked to have their tests scored again, this time by hand instead of by computer. Further investigation led to more and more wrongly scored tests. Most of the scores were too low.

College Board spokesman Brian O'Reilly says only four students gained three hundred points or more. He says most gained ninety points or less.

A perfect SAT score is two thousand four hundred points.

The College Board is not telling students or colleges about scores that were too high. Mister O'Reilly says students should not be punished for something out of their control.

He says the scores were no more than fifty points too high. He tells us correcting them would not have affected college acceptance decisions.

The tests went to a processing center in Texas. Pearson Educational Measurement has scored the SAT for the College Board since March of last year. The company took the place of E.T.S., the Educational Testing Service.

The College Board says humidity in the air caused the paper to expand and change the position of the answers. It says the problem affected tests with light or incomplete answer marks.

Mister O'Reilly says Pearson has already corrected the problem. He says the company has improved its computer systems and will now scan all answers two times.

The College Board has asked schools to reconsider any students they rejected before their SAT scores were increased. Higher education officials say acceptance decisions are based only partly on test scores. But higher scores can mean more financial aid.

Now, lawyers are reportedly looking to represent people who want to take the College Board to court.

Students are not the only ones who have been affected by testing mistakes recently. E.T.S. has just agreed to pay eleven million dollars to settle cases involving a test for teachers.

Thousands who took the Praxis in two thousand three and two thousand four received scores that were too low. More than four thousand of them were told they had failed when they had passed.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. Read and listen to our reports at I’m Steve Ember.