- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 23, 2006

BOSTON (AP) — The College Board is apologizing to high school students and college admissions offices after acknowledging that more students received mistakenly low scores on the SAT — a gaffe discovered just as thousands of students await college admission decisions.

The board disclosed Wednesday that 27,000 of 495,000 college entrance tests taken in October were not fully re-scanned for errors after scoring problems surfaced. When they were, an additional 375 students were found to have incorrectly low marks.

“We couldn’t be more sorry for the total stress this has caused students and admissions officers, and families,” said Chiara Coletti, a spokeswoman for the College Board.

The latest problems came to light with a request that Pearson Educational Measurement, which scores most of the exams, confirm all 495,000 October tests had been rescored, Miss Coletti said. That request followed an oversight in which, a week after saying all the exams had been rescored, the College Board said it found 1,600 more exams that had been set aside for various reasons and had been overlooked. Of those, 18 students got incorrectly low scores, the College Board said Wednesday.

Miss Coletti said admissions officers and school counselors were notified Wednesday, and students started receiving e-mail notifications yesterday, in some cases by phone.

“Some students will ask us to intervene” with admissions offices, Miss Coletti said. “We’ll do everything we can.”

On Sunday, Pearson told the College Board 27,000 of the 495,000 tests had not been “completely processed” and would be rescored immediately, Miss Coletti said. She said she could not provide further details on how the tests had been missed.

Douglas Kubach, chief executive of Pearson, said the company is “determined to take every possible necessary step to restore confidence in this process,” but a Pearson spokesman said he could not comment further on how the mistake happened.

The announcement brings to 4,411 the number of students who received incorrectly low scores. It is the latest in a string of embarrassing revelations for the College Board, the nonprofit organization that owns the exam, which said after discovering the 1,600 exams last week that it thought there would be no more problems.

“How many more missing forms are there lost in the system? How many other errors have not been reported?” said Robert Schaeffer of the group FairTest, which opposes excessive standardized testing.

The latest disclosure shows the need for an independent investigation, he said.

The College Board said that from now on all answer sheets would be scanned twice, among other new precautions, and that it would retain consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton to perform a comprehensive review within 90 days.

The initial discovery, disclosed to colleges beginning March 7, came as many schools were making final admissions decisions, prompting many to scramble to reconsider applicants whose scores were affected.

At least 600 students overall received incorrectly high scores on the exam, but those scores will not be lowered.

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