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IVY's accept Greenwich, Connecticut untimed SAT scores? Why?

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Replies to: IVY's accept Greenwich, Connecticut untimed SAT scores? Why?

  • babarbabar 320 replies4 threads Member
    This is just another reason that the College Board is an unreliable indicator of college success. It really is true that the extra time doesn't add all that much of an extra score for most students who get it, and the irony is that now with the test so long anyway, the extra time can actually create a problem since most kids don't have the stamina for a test of this extended length. The issue is that lots of kids who truly need the extra time because they have been given it for documented LD aren't getting it because their schools are flagged for having "too many" LD kids, while other kids are getting the time when they may not have the same level of need. For many individual families who have tried multiple times to persuade the powers that be at the College Board that a particular student truly has valid reasons for needing extended time, it feels like dealing with an insurance agency, fighting to get essential care that is being denied. Tenacity and time and a lot of documentation which can cost a lot of money can sometimes achieve desired results - and the privledged are in a better position to have that time and money. But generalizations are not useful. Any child, regardless of socioeconomic class, may or may not have real needs, but the College Board is way too big and bureaucratic to be able to make accurate assessments.
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  • CITATION XCITATION X 729 replies12 threads. Member
    A world without SATs sounds good in theory - but it would be a disaster for colleges as they would be unable to distinguish excellent students from average students - as high school grades/rank/recommendations etc - can tell very little about certain students

    As for Greenwich - the number seem too high to be real: however I see Wayland, MA - another very wealthy community somehow having (amazingly enough) 12% of its students LD designated for the SAT, which is way too high also. Certainly the SAT is being LD gamed big time in certain locales

    http://www.boston.com/news/education/higher/articles/2006/06/01/more_time_for_sats_a_concern/

    More time for SATs a concern
    By Ron DePasquale, Globe Correspondent | June 1, 2006

    A Wayland High School guidance counselor has questioned the unusually high number of suburban students who receive extra time on the SAT college entrance exam because they have a learning disability, warning that some may not be truly disabled.

    `Like everything else in life, the rich have access to things that others don't, and kids with subtle learning issues can afford to pay a psychologist to call it a disability" and gain an edge on the test, said Norma Greenberg, guidance director at Wayland High School. ``There are a hell of a lot more doing this now."

    Statewide, about 5 percent of students are granted accommodations (usually extra time) on the test, more than twice the national average of about 2 percent.

    In Wayland, 12 percent of students get accommodations, said Greenberg, who injected herself into a national debate over the issue when she was quoted on network TV earlier this spring.

    Brian O'Reilly, spokesman for the College Board, which administers the SATs, said he saw nothing nefarious in the fact that the number of students receiving accomodations nationally has nearly doubled since 1995.

    ``Many years ago, students with disabilities were not considered eligible for college," O'Reilly said. ``Fortunately, that's changed a great deal, and there are many more students with disabilities taking the SAT."

    O'Reilly said more suburban students are classified as disabled than urban students because suburban schools are simply better equipped to spot and assist them.

    Greenberg, however, said that wealthy students who simply aren't great at the SAT are turning a simple weakness into a learning disability.

    ``In the old days, you could tell students they were not good test takers, and they were OK with that," she said. ``Some people can't shoot a basketball -- that doesn't mean you're disabled. With learning, it's the same thing, everyone has strengths and weaknesses."

    Parents who want to boost their children's scores refuse to accept that their child simply has a weakness, Greenberg said.

    In most cases, a team of school officials that usually includes a guidance counselor and a school psychologist first evaluates disability evaluations before sending them on to the College Board, which then must approve them, O'Reilly said. Some students, usually from private schools, apply directly to the College Board for extra time.

    O'Reilly said the number of students receiving extra time leveled off about five years ago. In the fall of 2003, the College Board discontinued its practice of flagging a student's scores when they had been given extra time. There hasn't been a significant jump in disability determinations since then.

    Thom Hughart , Wellesley High School guidance director, said he was concerned, too, about students seeking an unfair advantage on the test.

    Wellesley students can expect a strict evaluation of disability before it even goes to the College Board, Hughart said. Students only interested in receiving extra time on the SAT and not in other forms of assistance are treated suspiciously, he said.

    ``I've got one or two I'm now looking at that I'm probably not going to grant," Hughart said. ``Students can't just say they get distracted and nervous and they need extra time."

    Harvard graduate student Sam Abrams , who is studying how the issue plays out in the Washington, D.C. , area, said the situation is ``an absolute disaster."

    ``Students of high status with money, who are white and attend ing private schools or elite suburban high schools , are the ones who take advantage of the relative ease to gain disability qualifications and extended time on the SAT," he said.

    Some college admissions officials, however, downplayed the SAT's importance and said they didn't fear widespread abuse.

    ``I've heard the same rumor and innuendo for years, and I'm very skeptical," said John Mahoney , director of undergraduate admission at Boston College.

    Mahoney called the disparity between the number of suburban and urban disabled students a concern but said he saw progress overall.

    ``When I first stepped into a classroom 25 years ago, if a kid said he had a learning disability, you didn't even know what he was talking about," said Mahoney, who once taught at St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers. ``There's so much more awareness now."

    Wendy Byrnes , a family advocate with the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, based in Berkeley, Calif., said she thinks that most students receiving extra time are genuinely disabled.

    ``This is a necessary process that allows them to participate like other students," Byrnes said.

    This coming weekend are the final SAT tests for the season.

    Greenberg and some other critics have a suggestion they believe would restore fairness: Give all students as much time as they need to finish the test.

    ``The MCAS is not timed, so why shouldn't the highest-stakes test for kids be the same?" said Wayland's Greenberg. ``It would make such a huge difference for so many. Just the knowledge of having as much time as you need would help kids relax a bit."
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  • AnonyMomAnonyMom 314 replies19 threads Member
    I must say I am mystified by the Greenwich statistics cited here. If you'll scroll down to the CC LD board, you'll find a number of families with students with serious, legitimate LD's that have been properly diagnosed and then accomodated in their public and private schools for years, who are nevertheless being turned down for accomodations by ETS and ACT. Some receive appropriate accomodations and others don't in a process that sounds, in some respects, random. I would be very interested in knowing more about the internal, decision-making processes of the ETS and ACT in granting and denying accomodations, and whether they believe that they are, in fact, bound to comply with the standards of the Americans With Disabilites Act, or with LD students' IEP or 504 plans. The notion that some vast number of suburban rich kids somehow got shady testing firms to dummy up their psych and neuro-psych testing to the point that their schools and ETS/ACT bought it just doesn't seem plausible -- so what is going on, and why are so many legitimately LD (and I don't mean what Citation is calling some "inventive" LD that suddenly pops up, say, 45 minutes before the deadline to apply for SAT accomodation) students being denied?
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  • IsleBoyIsleBoy 2668 replies13 threads Senior Member
    Colleges can go without the SAT. Bowdoin, Bates, etc...have been doing so for decades. Mt. Holyoke, College of the Holy Cross, Dickinson, Lewis & Clark, Knox, Wheaton (MA), Franklin & Marshall, Lawrence University, and Pitzer are just a few others who have made test scores optional.

    The SATs are one of the last ways that those in power can hold on it for a little bit longer...good luck with that.

    Check out the link for Mt. Holyoke:
    http://www.mtholyoke.edu/offices/comm/sat/earlyresults_sat.shtml
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  • CITATION XCITATION X 729 replies12 threads. Member
    "so what is going on"

    That is the precise issue

    Something is seriously amiss when Wayland, MA (as one example) apparently has 1 in 8 of its students taking the SAT getting somewhere between 1.5 to 3hours extra time on the SAT. That level of additional time would certainly be a major factor in artificially boosting scores

    It is not believable that Wayland would have that many with "learning disabilities" sufficient or of the type to qualify for special testing conditions. Clearly some kind of gaming is going on here. My guess is that they are claiming vast numbers of kids (with often newly discovered) ADD/HD (clearly one of the biggest fads currently in the United States) - and claiming that this requires in effect a test with extra time or unlimited time.

    Yes, some kids do have legitimate ADD/HD and yes and some kids might be soon be claiming the newly designated IED, intermittent explosive disorder, the one being blamed for road rage. Clearly the SAT test especially with restricted time constraints would be enough to make any kid diagnosed with IED very angry, and they of course would need extra time

    Has SRD or slow reading disability been listed yet? Or it that one still under discussion? I guess 1/2 the planet might meet that proposed "disease."

    I know the "SAT is irrelevant and should be dropped" crowd loves this, however they in fact have no good substitute for the SAT, except for some absurd claims about teachers on an ongoing basis seletively feeding student work to certain colleges - to prove the capabilities of specified students. That REALLY sounds like a successful substitute for an SAT test

    I am very familiar with Wayland as a town, It's one of the premium communities in terms of weath in Massaschusetts, with only perhaps Weston, Lincoln, or maybe Dover and a few other communities exceeding it, and I bet if you look hard enough you will find similar nearby towns also shopping around for "psychoeducational evaluations" - although I doubt they've hit the 12% level

    Soon the SAT will in fact become meaningless if these trends continue
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  • Shark_biteShark_bite 1418 replies143 threads Senior Member
    Slate isn't a parody site.
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  • MurasakiMurasaki 1985 replies161 threads Senior Member
    If colleges really do start looking at scores skeptically, then it really disadvantages students that did well based on their own sweat. Especially if such a small percentage of students are the ones causing doubt.
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  • CITATION XCITATION X 729 replies12 threads. Member
    The College Board at minimum needs first to fully disclose how many "learning disabled (and test time adjusted) students have actually scored over 1500 (old scale) and 2250 (new scale) - as this is a critical demarcation line for non-URM admits to elite universities and colleges in the United States

    I suspect they will not reveal this information
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  • CITATION XCITATION X 729 replies12 threads. Member
    Interesting charts - looks like about a approx 240 point difference (on a 2400 scale) in DC where about 6% of the students have special conditions vs little difference in Texas where only 1% of the kids are classified as needing special test conditions, 40 points or so advantages in CA and MD with 1% and 3% respectively of students special-condition qualified

    In theory the LD test taker mix (for example in DC) could be higher scoring students even w/o the special conditions - so its hard to interpret - however given the higher percent numbers - it could be LD gaming going on

    CollegeBoard needs to disclose complete breakdown chart for varying ranges and percentages of scores for LD special conditions test takers -and particularly 2250 and above scores and numbers of students - however don't hold your breath

    This would shed light and give a possible answer on the gaming issue -which in fact some experts have said is in fact going on in certain communities

    Note on the collegeboard site some of the tests they accept to diagnose LD

    (begin quote)

    Any one of the following to measure a student's academic skills in timed testing settings:
    Nelson Denny Reading Test with normal time and extra time measures
    Gray Oral Reading Test IV (GORT IV)
    Gray Oral Silent Reading Test (GRST)
    Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test (SDRT)
    Stanford Diagnostic Math Test (SDMT)
    Woodcock-Johnson III Fluency Measures
    When the above timed achievement tests are administered under standardized conditions, and when the results are interpreted within the context of other diagnostic information, they provide useful diagnostic information regarding testing accommodations such as extended testing time. A low processing speed score alone, however, usually does not indicate the need for testing accommodations. In this instance, what would be important is to include in the documentation how the low processing speed impacts your overall academic skills under timed conditions.

    (end quotes)

    It would not be hard for a smart kid to know exactly how to "handle" these tests which were setup to pickup "learning disabilities

    consider the following paragraphs from the same site:

    (begin quote)
    Any one of the following to measure a student's information processing:
    Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude-3 (DTLA-3) or DTLA-A (Adult)
    WISC IV
    WAIS-III
    WJ-III - Tests of Cognitive Ability
    Depending on your disabling conditions, other measures such as personality tests, ADHD rating scales, speech and language testing, occupational therapy evaluations, etc. may be indicated.

    What is a good format for documenting my disability diagnosis and functional limitations should the College Board ask to review my supporting documentation?
    Formats vary; however, most effective are those that summarize and clearly discuss, in a summary report/individual plan/program: 1) your specific diagnosis and rationale for the diagnosis supported by the diagnostic battery; 2) the historical information including patterns in your background that reflect the presence of a disability; 3) when appropriate, evidence that alternative explanations are ruled out (e.g., environmental stressors; motivation; personality issues); 4) evidence of the current substantial functional limitations resulting from the disability, especially as impacting academic progress in the classroom; and 5) actual score summaries of standard or scaled scores and percentiles for all sub tests, index, and cluster scores of the cognitive and achievement tests are appended.

    How current should the diagnosis, functional limitations, and supporting documentation be?
    Since reasonable accommodations are based on the present impact of the disability, current documentation is important, preferably within the last 5 years. The College Board will accept cognitive testing that is more than 5 years old if there is a long-standing disability and complete cognitive testing was administered when the disabling condition was first diagnosed.

    (end quote)

    BOTTOM LINE - recent data not only welcome - its considered better

    This system is clearly ripe for those seeking 2350 plus results, for example kids that might w/o the extra 3 hours -might be scoring in the 2200 range and would certainly know what to do on these battery of tests

    Note that tests testing for extroverted/salestype personalities often given by certain corporations - can easily be steered a certain way - at least by those having any introspective and analytical ability skills
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  • DianeRDianeR 1521 replies20 threads Senior Member
    Lot of interesting speculation, but not any proof. If there are cases of gaming the system out there, where are they?

    Are there any kids that suddenly seem to have learning disabilities in high school according to the testing, get placed into special ed and get certain accommodations at their schools, successfully get those same accommodations from College Board, and then score in the 2350 range? I haven't heard of any and assess the probability as remote.

    It isn't a question of taking a particular test and going into the College Board with the results and automatically getting accommodations. Good luck getting accommodations if the high school doesn't give them and particularly if grades have been high. Good luck getting them at the high school if they've never been needed in the past and putting a kid into the special ed system costs them money. My experience with a special ed advocacy group and reading about the efforts of those in other jurisdictions -- schools are very resistant; kids getting C's are frequently said not to be entitled to any help. Academic superstars simply aren't going to get anything. Plus how many of those in the 2200 range suddenly decide they wouldn't mind being suddenly thrust into special ed, which people would certainly know due to nonstandard testing and the like? Being in special ed would also be something that could well be disclosed in recommendations and the counselor's report; it couldn't be effectively hidden. It would seem more advantageous to simply prep for the tests a bit more -- and those who want to cheat will try to find some other way.

    I find those charts interesting myself. The numbers getting accommodations are quite modest and the average scores are way, way below 2350.

    I don't put it beyond people to cheat. I just find the other ways of cheating (where actual people sometimes get caught and the matter shows up in the press) to be far more realistic and credible.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it folks like the Hoover Institute that don't like special education to begin with and don't believe in learning disabilities at all? It seems like all this speculation of unfair advantage comes from those that would like to junk IDEA. I can agree with mislabeling and overdiagnosis, but not that real problems don't exist. One can simply look back to the way things were prior to the equal protection cases that prompted the original law to see the sad state of affairs when kids didn't get the help they needed.
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  • collegebound5collegebound5 757 replies63 threads Member
    I read an article not too long ago that explains why students from these affluent towns are getting extra time. There is unfortunately such a frenzy going on in this competitive college application atmosphere, that parents of wealthy children are basically paying to get an edge. This is no different from parents who pay consultants $40,000 to help repackage their child to help get them into an ivy league school. In fact many of the same parents who have arranged for extra time for their children on the SAT ALSO pay college consultants the fees of $40,000 or more. In fact, many pay significantly more. They pay $40,000 to the high priced college consultant who takes the applicant who may have great grades but mediocre extra curriculars and repackage them by for example signing them up to buid houses in an impoverished country over the summer (cost $6,800), then suggesting they come back and do a fundraiser to raise money for that cause to show great passion, and start a school club. Many of these parents also pay another set of fees for private SAT I tutors and SAT II tutors, and then they pay someone else to help them write and hone up the essay. Some of these parents also may give large amounts of money to particular schools their child is applying to.
    Here is unfortunatley how the extra time works as per that article. (I will look for it and send the link). In some very affluent towns like Greenwich, CT, it is well known that there are psychologists whom one can pay who are willing for a fee to make the diagnosis that the child needs extra time. This seems unethical, but unfortunately it happens all the time. The students gets the testing and the paperwork filled and is given the extra time. These students are not getting the extra time because they really have a learning disability. They are really paying for an edge. This takes away from those students with a legitimate learning disability who really need the extra time.
    It used to be that SAT tests were flagged as having been taken under extra time. The moment that it was decided that it would be discrimination to tag them, and the tag was removed, wealthy parents found psychologists who would label their children learning disapble to get extra time. The article indicates that the SAT scores of those receiving extra time have gone up significantly since the tag was removed. I believe the average SAT scores of untimed applicants or those receiving extra time is higher than the general population which is ridiculous.
    The extra time or untime test conditions seem to have the most benefit for math which results in higher scores when student have unlimited double the amount of time to finish the problems.
    It seems ridiculous that at some of the most elite boarding prep schools in the country that there are also large numbers of students taking the SAT with additional time
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  • CITATION XCITATION X 729 replies12 threads. Member
    "Lot of interesting speculation, but not any proof. If there are cases of gaming the system out there, where are they?

    The obvious question is why for example is ETS failing to disclose the distribution chart on scores obtained by special condition test takers? How many for example have/are testing over 1500 (old scale) and 2250 new scale - a critical threshold for many elite universities and colleges?

    Median scores by category of primary "learning disability" claimed?

    LD time accomodated test taker percentages by geographic testing site?

    Why are the released statistics on special condition test takers so meager?

    Obviously, if the very entity that's controlling the necessary information needed to determine whether SAT "gaming" could be occurring - is itself failing to release this data - then that factor alone suggests there could be some gaming issues

    Otherwise one would think ETS would be anxious to disclose these numbers

    Greenwich, CT (30 to 50%) and Wayland, MA (12%) (among other communities) have already been indentified (at least by media sources) as having highly unusual numbers of time accomodated test takers

    Assuming these figures are accurate, ETS could easily release numbers on communities or testing sites having similar high percentages

    ETS claims to be interested in full disclosure - so I guess we can forward to some new statistics soon
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  • CITATION XCITATION X 729 replies12 threads. Member
    Apparently shopping for the right so-called "psychoeducational evaluation" is happening on an increasing basis as part of an effort to game the system and if ETS doesn't shut these abuses down, and severely constrict LD time accomodated students to those with AUTHENTIC disabilities (complete with long histories for the claimant) - the SAT test will soon lose much of its integrity.

    Amazingly per the very guidelines ETS is posting (as I've cited in earlier posts) ETS is actually encouraging recent "learning disabled" evidence - which only makes the problem worse as it obviously tilts the system toward suddenly discovering new "learning disabilities"

    There really is no end to how many categories of "learning disabilities" are yet to be invented. Consider this comment from 2001 in reference to "learning disabilties" in general: "The IDEA (Disabilities Education Act) has evolved in ways that are dizzying yet to all-too predictable when education policy is dictated from Washington. But the program has evolved in ways that are dizzying yet all-too predictable when education policy is dictated from Washington. Participation in the program was capped at 12 percent of American students. Demand has increased to meet supply: While 8.3 percent of students were classified with special needs in 1976, today that figure is guess what?about 12 percent. The overall number of special-needs students has increased by 65 percent in 25 years, attributable to an expansion of the concept of "learning disabilities" that has transformed the IDEA, in the words of G. Reid Lyon of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, into a "sociological sponge to wipe up the ills of general education." (Education Week, Sept 2001)
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  • CITATION XCITATION X 729 replies12 threads. Member
    No doubt abuses in the SAT "learning disability" are growing and clearly gaming is occuring. See this story from ABC News


    http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=1787712&page=1

    March 30, 2006 — When Ali Hellberg, 19, was in prep school, she said several of her classmates obtained notes from psychologists diagnosing them with learning disabilities, even though they didn't have any learning problems.

    They faked learning disabilities to get extra time to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT, in the hopes of getting a higher score, she said.

    "I had a friend who is a good math student but is no math brain, and she got extended time and got a perfect score on her math SAT," Hellberg said.

    That friend now attends an Ivy League school.

    Some call this scheme the rich-kids loophole. With intense competition to get into Ivy League and other elite colleges, students say they need nearly perfect SAT scores, as well as great grades and impressive extra-curricular activities. A rising chorus of critics say high school students from wealthy ZIP codes and elite schools obtain questionable diagnoses of learning disabilities to secure extra time to take the SATs and beef up their scores.

    Hellberg believes that to get into Harvard or Princeton, she'd need to score at least a 1500. The highest SAT score is 1600.

    "I got below 1400 and I knew I didn't have a shot getting into an Ivy despite my grades and extra-curriculars," she said.

    'Hired Guns' Give Diagnosis

    Approximately 300,000 students will take the three-hour-and-forty-five-minute SAT this Saturday; about 30,000 taking the test this year will be given special accommodations, including extra time.

    For decades, the College Board, which administers the SAT, has allowed up to twice as much time to accommodate students who have legitimate learning disabilities, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

    But with college admissions more competitive than ever, guidance counselors and other educators say privileged kids have gamed the system.

    At the elite Wayland High school outside Boston, the number of students receiving special accommodations is more than 12 percent, more than six times the estimated national average of high school students with learning disabilities.

    Wayland guidance counselor Norma Greenberg said that it's not that difficult for wealthy, well-connected students to get the diagnoses they want.

    "There are a lot of hired guns out there, there are a lot of psychologists who you can pay a lot of money to and get a murky diagnosis of subtle learning issues," Greenberg said. "'Subtle' is a word that is really a red flag. 'Executive functioning' is another red flag, something that is kind of a new thing."

    Other high school guidance counselors told ABC News that "diagnosis shopping" has given rise to a cottage industry of doctors and medical professionals, all willing to give students the documentation they need to get the extra test time they want.

    Concentrated Privilege

    The natural proportion of learning disabilities should be somewhere around 2 percent, the College Board said, but at some elite schools, up to 46 percent of students receive special accommodations to take the tests, including extra time.

    Harvard graduate student and researcher Sam Abrams conducted a study on students in Washington, D.C, where the number of students receiving accommodations is more than three times the national average.

    "We see outright overperformance … scores that, on average, in the disability population, would qualify you without question to the elite universities," Abrams said. "This strikes me as very compelling evidence that people are taking advantage of the system in Washington, D.C."

    Abrams believes the abuse has become more frequent since fall 2003, when the College Board stopped "flagging" the scores of students who took the SAT with extra time. Since the "flag" was dropped, colleges have no way of knowing that the test was taken under nonstandard conditions. Abrams and his co-author, Miriam Freedman, believe this has made it more appealing for students who don't need the extra time to seek it out.

    The College Board notes that there has not been an increase in the number of students receiving special accommodations. It acknowledges that scores for those students have increased but said that's evidence the students had learning disabilities. The College Board said students without learning disabilities did not show any marked improvement in scores when given extra time.

    In Chicago's wealthy northern suburbs, SAT tutor Jay Brody sees the same "diagnosis shopping" phenomenon as Greenberg. "Parents have asked me on numerous occasions if I know doctors who specialize in this," Brody said. "I know if you get on the Internet there are doctors who advertise that they perform this service, and there's really no incentive for doctors not to do it, and so I think it's pretty easy for anyone to find."

    Mouton's Services

    Steven Mouton, a licensed clinical psychologist in Pasedena, Calif., has a Web site that advertises a number of services, including assessment of learning disabilities.

    Mouton charges more than $1,500 for a diagnosis and said he diagnosed a learning disability about 90 percent of the time. Business is up, he said, and most of his clients are from wealthy neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Though not all — Mouton advertises a special "fly-in" service to the local airport for those who want to see him and secure his expertise.

    "What I recommend is to take the SAT under the regular conditions and then give yourself an additional 50 percent more time on the practice test," Mouton said. "And if you see a significant difference, then there is a high probability that you would benefit from the additional time."

    Mouton said it's impossible to game the system. "All of those people that are getting the accommodations, those that are getting independent tests to have these accommodations supported, are doing so and in a justified way," Mouton said.

    But in 2000, the California State Auditor Board reported that "the basis for accommodations [in the state] was questionable in 18.2 percent of cases."

    Jay Brody, the tutor, said that extra time is as good as adding a couple hundred points to a student's score. In today's competitive admissions atmosphere, that point jump can mean the difference between getting admitted or rejected from a top-tier school or receiving enough financial aid to actually attend one.

    "Accommodations are supposed to level the playing field," said education lawyer Miriam Freedman. "They are not supposed to change the game. This one changes the game at the high range."

    The College Board, however, denies this is a problem at all.

    "The board has put into place a rigorous system so that students who shouldn't be getting special accommodations don't," said Jim Montoya, a vice president at the College Board.

    But out in the trenches, many disagree with the College Board. Mark Magazu went to a modest high school in rural New Jersey. He had to take a year off between high school and college to beef up his SAT scores.

    Years later, as an SAT tutor, he saw students exploiting the rich-kids loophole," and he thought it was unfair.

    "I mean, I was right on the cusp for everywhere I applied; I could have used the extra 50 or 200 points," Maguza said. "It makes me more mad to know that there are some kids that don't get accepted, that went through what I did. I couldn't go to school for a year."

    In addition to casting doubt on students who have legitimate special needs, what kind of lesson does this "loophole" teach honest students?

    When ABC News asked Ali Hellberg, who is now a freshman at Georgetown University, whether in retrospect she'd wished she had gotten a diagnosis that would have secured extra time for her to take the SAT, she immediately said yes.

    But after a second of thought, she changed her mind. "No," she said. "Because I'm happy here and I got in."
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  • collegebound5collegebound5 757 replies63 threads Member
    I seriously doubt that the collegeboard/ETS will admit to any preferential treatment at this time. If they were to publish the SAT scores of those who received special time versus those who did not by city and town, and if they were to push for identification on SAT score reports as to who had extra time and who did not, they would lose a large number of SAT test takerss to their competitior the ACT. The SAT is already losing a great deal of credibiity. They have for decades enjoyed a virtual monopoly. They have such power that a student could think their SAT score report was wrong and pay $50.00 for handscroing and never receive any proof that their exam was actually handscored and if it was handscored and an error was found if it would be corrected. I believe it is likely that collegeboard has been making scoring errors for years and have not notified students of such errors. It could even be possible that they never intended to publicize the large scoring error from October but when they launched their own investigation the problems was leaked to the public since it was of such great magnitude and they had to annoucned it. Afterall, it took months after they knew about it for them to coe forward.
    Collegeboard is under much criticism today and I doubt they will do anything to affect the number of test takers who will continue to sign up to take their exams. While the public might be happy to read that they are being fouthcoming about those who live in places like Greenwich who get extra time or take the SAT under untimed conditions, - it is those test takers who are seeking scores of over 600 which are the collegeboard's strongest base of customers. Collegeboard does not want to lose them.
    The SAT is losing credibility. I have noticed that at some of the top elite boarding schools in the northeast that college counselors are indicating openly to students that the ACT is a better test because it is not based on logic but knowledge, that students can send the highest scores and dont have to report lower scores.
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  • DianeRDianeR 1521 replies20 threads Senior Member
    When Ali Hellberg, 19, was in prep school, she said several of her classmates obtained notes from psychologists diagnosing them with learning disabilities, even though they didn't have any learning problems.
    And she is an expert about whether they had learning problems and not the psychologists and those reviewing the psychologists' testing and conclusions? Same sort of problem pervades the "proof" of the problem one always sees.

    It would be interesting to know about how the California State Auditor Board came up with the conclusions it did about questionable accommodations. Auditors aren't competent to judge this by themselves. What were the criteria applied and how did they even gain access to students' files (I would think they would be confidential).
    Abrams believes the abuse has become more frequent since fall 2003, when the College Board stopped "flagging" the scores of students who took the SAT with extra time. ...

    The College Board notes that there has not been an increase in the number of students receiving special accommodations.

    Seems like a contradiction to me. Also, beyond being a Harvard graduate student and "researcher," the article gives no indication of the training or methodology of Abrams (much less what ideological bone to pick he might have).

    How much of the controversy is really over people disagreeing about the nature of learning disabilities -- which ones exist and which don't, what is deserving of accommodation -- rather than kids somehow getting diagnoses that they or their parents know to be fraudulent? I really suspect it is the former.
    The College Board said students without learning disabilities did not show any marked improvement in scores when given extra time.

    That, I think, is the key point. If it is true, then it pretty much kills any argument about the system being abused. As I mentioned before, when my kids took practice tests, their untimed and timed results were essentially the same.

    I don't know where the College Board or others come up with a 2% prevalence of LDs. Those children with this label in schools (i.e., in special education) is estimated by LDA as 4-6%. Add in those with fine motor, vision, or other problems that might need accommodated SATs and the overall percentages of those getting accommodations, as officially reported in different jurisdictions, doesn't seem out of whack at all. If CB is trying to keep accommodations to 2%, it would seem that, if anything, they are being too strict.

    It doesn't surprise me that affluent areas have more diagnoses. By itself, this doesn't mean people are lying or cheating. Often school systems are resistant to testing or recognition of learning problems. Frequently, it takes parents with the wherewithall to hire outside experts and attorneys -- and the willingness to disagree with the presumed expertise of the school -- to get anywhere. I also know of folks who move to get to school systems with better special education.

    The actual prevalence of LDs in the adolescent population as a whole is probably higher than the percentage of those in schools who have the label. There are a lot of parents who simply go along with what the school says. There are also cases where the family resists the testing because they don't want the perceived stigma or refuse to believe there are problems. There are quite a few people, like myself, that pull their kids out to homeschool when the school won't do what they should.

    I would view a percentage of accommodations from a regular school in the 30 to 50 percent range as suspicious. But I haven't seen any hard proof this is really happening. Is it 30 or 50 -- quite a difference and it makes me question the reliability of the hearsay report. I've never heard the actual basis for the figure, just articles that cite one another. (I've read too many accounts of different statistics that get commonly bandied about that fall apart when people try to find the original basis for them.) Are we talking about diagnoses or SAT accommodations -- these are different things. Are we talking about elite schools that advertise themselves as catering to (or accepting) those with different learning styles or problems? Such schools exist and probably have relatively high rates of accommodated students. (There is such a school a couple miles from where I live as a matter of fact -- what might be considered the "special needs" percentage of the school population is about 50% and the school is both selective and expensive.)

    Look around on CC; you can find plenty of parents with first hand experience of being unable to get accommodations despite lots of documentation. This seems more credible to me than articles quoting some nonexpert outsiders reporting their perceptions that it must be easy.

    I don't mean to say that I would agree with every diagnoses out there. I wouldn't and didn't with my own children. Tests often just tell where a kid is at, not what s/he could ultimately achieve with the proper intervention. My two had all sort of labels given to them by "experts." By the time they took standardized tests for college, they needed no accommodation and did well enough to get into top 20 schools.

    BTW I wouldn't see the need for recent testing as something showing that kids can just find LDs at the last minute. The need for recent testing is to see if a previous problem continues to exist. If I had grabbed the old testing of my daughter from when she was in private and public special ed, it would have shown the need for accommodation. But by the time she did standardized testing, she had no need for accommodation.

    About statistics -- I agree it would be nice to have some. I don't know how easy or cheap it would be for College Board to pull together the sort of information you would like to see, though. They seem to have enough problems just getting all their tests scored properly. I also don't see why they would fail to disclose what information they do have or why they would want to be complicit in gaming the system, which is what you seem to suggest.

    One thing I haven't asked yet is what YOU are recommending. A change in what psychologists and others view as learning disabilities? An elimination of extra time for anyone? An elimination of special education?

    Maybe there are some people getting extra time that I wouldn't give extra time to, if I were the one deciding. But I don't know that it gives them any advantage.

    If you want to be concerned about how rich and/or dishonest people can get an advantage, I think far more serious concerns could be raised -- legacy and developmental "hooks," hiring of admissions experts to package the applications, extensive private tutoring and test prep, cheating in high school, cheating on standardized tests, lying on college applications, buying application essays, and the like.
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  • CITATION XCITATION X 729 replies12 threads. Member
    "The College Board said students without learning disabilities did not show any marked improvement in scores when given extra time"

    How much extra time. We are supposed to believe random students given 6 or 7 hours to complete an SAT 1 test - would not show "marked" improvement? THEN give everyone double time

    How does ETS define "marked" improvement?

    The facts are: ETS is holding back their detailed stats on time accomodated students - so such generalized statements such as that have no meaning at all

    On the SAT 11 Chem test last month - double or triple time certainly would have been a plus because many test takers simply didn't have time to answer all the questions and THATS why its being put in this context in this thread
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