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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?

  • DianeRDianeR Registered User Posts: 1,541 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.
  • collegebound5collegebound5 Registered User Posts: 820 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
  • CITATION XCITATION X . Posts: 741 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
  • CITATION XCITATION X . Posts: 741 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)
  • CITATION XCITATION X . Posts: 741 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."
  • collegebound5collegebound5 Registered User Posts: 820 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.
  • DianeRDianeR Registered User Posts: 1,541 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.
  • CITATION XCITATION X . Posts: 741 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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