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snowbeltmom

ACT, Inc. accusing students of cheating

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The English section of the ACT is very coachable. The ACT folks have to know this, yet they are refusing to reinstate scores even when students can document that they received tutoring.

I wonder if that’s what they’re really after. Perhaps they don’t like the fact that with a few months prep that sort of increase is possible. Kind of how the College Board doesn’t think you can be successful taking an AP class/test in middle school. But to go as far as cancelling scores? I bet someone is thinking class action....

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At the end of the day, it is the ACT's responsibility to ensure a secure testing environment.

The computerized GMAT, GRE and CTY JHU’s SCAT is actually the most secured testing environment I have encountered. Hard to cheat when the persons nearby are not taking the same tests, the test room is filled with security cameras and the proctors sit behind a wall of computer screens watching security camera footage.

 

ACT has an online version. Maybe that’s the direction it is going to reduce potential cheating.

 

“ACT is moving to this new computer-adaptive testing (CAT) format to enhance the experience of examinees as well as to improve test security. The use of a CAT design allows for quicker scoring and can result in an assessment that takes less time to administer. The CAT format also addresses some issues in test security by limiting the exposure of specific test questions.

 

“We believe the CAT design will benefit examinees, making the testing experience more positive and helping to ensure a level playing field for all test takers,†said ACT Chief Commercial Officer Suzana Delanghe. “ACT cares deeply about test security and the validity of ACT scores. While we know that the vast majority of examinees are honest, there are a growing number of parties who are regrettably seeking to undermine assessments for their own gain. These efforts hurt innocent test takers. We are taking this step partly in response to the rise in such activities we’ve seen overseas.â€

...

In 2013, ACT introduced an online version of the ACT as an option to schools participating in statewide or districtwide administration of the ACT. This online version results in college-reportable scores that are equivalent to scores from paper testing.†https://www.act.org/content/act/en/newsroom/computer-adaptive-version-of-act-test-to-be-administered-in-inte.html

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I thought students sitting at the same table had different tests, making cheating difficult??  I also thought ACT was so much better than SAT at test security.  Maybe not!  My dd has a baseline of a 28 from her freshman year.  She will be a senior next year, and I was going to have her take the July exam with some test prep, with room for another try in the fall if she is not happy with her score.  Now this is making me nervous.  I would hope her baseline score is old enough that there would not be any red flags if she improves a good amount!!  

Edited by mjbucks1

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  I would hope her baseline score is old enough that there would not be any red flags if she improves a good amount!!  

 

 it is.

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While score jumps may have flagged these students, it seems they also have identical answers to someone sitting close to them.

 

The OP on the College Confidential thread:

 

I cannot answer to why the test results revealed identical answers to other tests taken that day

 

The next person who went through the same thing:

 

combined with her seating proximity to a person whom she had "an unusual response similarities with", her significant increase in score. they also cited that she had only two math computations in her book that were lead to the correct answer, while the other person had 26

 

I don't know. I'm not convinced that all these kids were falsely accused. This isn't to say that ACT couldn't do more to stop cheating or find better algorithms to identify cheating. And they definitely need to notify people much faster when this happens. The only reason I'm posting is because I don't think most students/parents have anything to worry about. I feel like the sense of outrage needs to be tempered by the fact that we don't know the whole story here.

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They recycle tests? 😱 so much is riding on those scores for kids. Unbelievable and irresponsible. I wouldn’t have even thought of this possibility.

I assume they recycle just questions - if they have a big enough data base then the tests can be reasonably random - photographic memory folks would be happy with this but that is small segment of the population

 

It seems they were giving the same test to international sites just a short time after the US exam - that is pretty stupid in this day and age 

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While score jumps may have flagged these students, it seems they also have identical answers to someone sitting close to them.

 

But, we don't know what this means. Is it that they chose the same wrong answer choices? Wouldn't that be possible if they had the same teaching? Or does it mean they got the same questions right or the same score? Or does it mean that the majority of their answers we're the same (which is the most suspicious but still jot evidence of cheating)?

I don't know. I'm not convinced that all these kids were falsely accused.

I agree. I saw one non-Col. Conf posting on the internet where it really sounded, to me,as if the kid was guilty (got a 32? or 34? the second time but has straight Bs in school and refuses to retake the test). It sounded like, in that case, the student was notified in a timely manner and would have time to retake it close to the original tutoring.

 

These companies seem to have a "guilty since we said so" vs "guilty until proven innocent."

Edited by RootAnn
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But, we don't know what this means. Is it that they chose the same wrong answer choices? Wouldn't that be possible if they had the same teaching? Or does it mean they got the same questions right or the same score? Or does it mean that the majority of their answers we're the same (which is the most suspicious but still jot evidence of cheating)?

 

 

I agree that we don't know what this means. Same right? Same wrong? 25% of the same answers? Or 100%? That would make a big difference as I try to wrap my head around this. That's my issue with this situation. We don't know everything. At the end of the day, the only person who knows everything is the student who took the test.

 

(Not relevant to the conversation, but I laugh at the "this is a good kid" "he/she would never cheat" comments. Sorry folks, it doesn't work like that.)

 

What I would like to know is this. Is the ACT looking at all the evidence and determining that there is a very high likelihood that the student did cheat? Or is the ACT picking on certain students and accusing them of cheating when it is far more likely that there is an innocent explanation? I can't tell which is more likely true by reading the posts of a handful of upset moms on College Confidential.

 

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There are definitely kids cheating on the ACT somehow.  This is an admitted case of copying 

https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/sat-act-tests-test-preparation/1577076-i-cheated-on-the-act-please-help-me.html

 

I am not in defense of the ACT administration at all.  I think tagging an old score is really bad news.  Schools definitely should not require a retake for a kid "done". That is ridiculous. There should be some easy way to share those scores with schools so they don't have to do it again.  I also am curious about seating chart discrepancies.  If the schools report the discrepancies and then they see similarities with other score sheets in close proximity, maybe that would cause a flag? 

 

I personally am not a strong timed tester nor is my kids and exposure has been helpful.  Yearly testing is a requirement in my state so my kid started taking the ACT in 7th grade I think (I don't have his 7th score).  But his composite went up 4 points from 8th to 9th and 9th to 10th.  His subscores have gone up as much 8 points.  His test dates have all been about a year apart (we do it in the spring).  We've not had any problem for similar jumps.  I know others who've used the ACT similarly here for talent search or homeschool requirements who've had no problem.  I know for my young testers just the length of the test was an issue at first and the interest level.  My kid did not remotely care was it his score was until he was a sophomore.   He's taking it for hopefully the last time next month and is actually prepping this time.  He's pretty close with his sophomore score where he needs to be, but those last couple points we've really found it really helps to work with pacing.   At least for kids that aren't necessarily naturally fast or accurate.    Anyway - it makes me think there must be something else to flagging many of these scores than just the jump.  

 

ETA - I help run a teen group and I've seen teens under stress lie repeatedly to their parents about doing something there are many witnesses for.  And their parents will back them up and leave in a huff.  So I agree that just because a kid says they know nothing doesn't mean it didn't happen.  

Edited by FuzzyCatz

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Schools definitely should not require a retake for a kid "done". That is ridiculous. There should be some easy way to share those scores with schools so they don't have to do it again. 

 

Yearly testing is a requirement in my state so my kid started taking the ACT in 7th grade I think (I don't have his 7th score).

So, since yearly testing is a requirement in your state & you say your kid will be "done" this year (Sophomore?), what are you going to do Junior & Senior year?

 

I think schools face this predicament. The test (ACT or SAT) is a requirement in some states, usually junior year, because of state law. (It is now state law in the state I live in that ALL public school juniors are required to take the ACT - given to them at no cost on a school day.) What sort of exemption should those kids get? At what score do they not require this? What if you take it and do really well, for you, but it is a 24? Should you have to retake it for the school's requirement? What would the proposed "opt out" score be?

 

The ACT says you can always wipe a score from their record - unless that score is from a state-funded, state-mandated sitting of the ACT. You can't have that one deleted.

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As an aside, another testing anecdote.  My kid took the PSAT last fall as a junior.  He was well aligned for NMF based on his sophomore PSAT and his spring ACT too.  Science is his most tenuous section on the ACT for some reason.  

 

Anyway - he tested at a site we have not used before.  It is an old school and they had a couple hundred kids in an auditorium with the tiny old wood flip desks.  He did great and in range for the Reading and Writing Sections.  Well, he dropped 6% in math which did not even make sense based on what he was doing.   Balancing 3 pieces of paper and a calculator on a tiny square is not his strong suit.  When we got the full report back it was really obvious he got off on his bubbling of answers.  LOL.  Oh well - no NM for him.  Which is fine.  It would have been a data point on his application but he isn't really looking at programs that have generous merit for NMF anyway and his ACT score will be reflective of ability and strong.  

 

Just another example of how scores might be inconsistent without any cheating in the picture.  

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So, since yearly testing is a requirement in your state & you say your kid will be "done" this year (Sophomore?), what are you going to do Junior & Senior year?

 

I think schools face this predicament. The test (ACT or SAT) is a requirement in some states, usually junior year, because of state law. (It is now state law in the state I live in that ALL public school juniors are required to take the ACT - given to them at no cost on a school day.) What sort of exemption should those kids get? At what score do they not require this? What if you take it and do really well, for you, but it is a 24? Should you have to retake it for the school's requirement? What would the proposed "opt out" score be?

 

The ACT says you can always wipe a score from their record - unless that score is from a state-funded, state-mandated sitting of the ACT. You can't have that one deleted.

 

Oh sorry, he's a junior this year.  And homeschool paperwork (and hence testing) is only required through age 16.  So he can legitimately be done.  

 

That's a good question.  I know kids in our state CAN and do opt out of state testing for any reason.  You have to jump through a few hoops but it is possible.  But if you aren't paying attention and on the ball and have your paperwork filed I see how a kid just ends up in the test again.    I just did some googling and found out the opt out rate in our urban schools is super high for 11th graders.  Some of these kids are not college bound but some are very high flyers.  

 

I'd personally be fine with people opting out after they achieve an average score.  It's not like they aren't having to jump through the hoops of their individual classes and are just cut loose.   It would just be nice for kids that have good scores and feel done to be able to let the school have that data for their averages instead of having a black mark possibly in their permanent records which I know happens some places.  

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It would seem that someone looking at someone else'd papers should be caught in the moment.  Also, desks should be far enough apart that this would be difficult and obvious.  But, "we think you looked at someone else answers" after the fact?  That is nuts.  

 

I remember when I took the SAT I was the only one to actually write on my test booklet.  Everyone else including the Room Supervisor thought it wasn't allowed.  She tried to tell me it wasn't allowed, and I told her she was wrong and she backed off.   So, I find it funny that one of the evidence pieces of cheating was not writing on the book.  

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So, since yearly testing is a requirement in your state & you say your kid will be "done" this year (Sophomore?), what are you going to do Junior & Senior year?

 

I think schools face this predicament. The test (ACT or SAT) is a requirement in some states, usually junior year, because of state law. (It is now state law in the state I live in that ALL public school juniors are required to take the ACT - given to them at no cost on a school day.) What sort of exemption should those kids get? At what score do they not require this? What if you take it and do really well, for you, but it is a 24? Should you have to retake it for the school's requirement? What would the proposed "opt out" score be?

 

The ACT says you can always wipe a score from their record - unless that score is from a state-funded, state-mandated sitting of the ACT. You can't have that one deleted.

 

We have state-mandated ACT testing in winter of Junior year for all public school students. If students have already taken the ACT and received scores above a certain point, then they can opt out of the test. The required scores to opt out in our district are E-18, M-22, R-22, S-23, Wrtg - 7. You must meet that minimum in every section. And it's the student's responsibility to submit their previous ACT scores to the school along with the request to opt out. If you don't get your paperwork in, then you'll be taking the ACT again.

 

In practice, a lot of public school students just plan for the required ACT test in winter of Junior year to be their first test sitting, because it's free and given during the school day. And a Feb test date still leaves them plenty of time to retake the ACT later in the spring or in the fall if they need to raise their score. 

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But, we don't know what this means. Is it that they chose the same wrong answer choices? Wouldn't that be possible if they had the same teaching? Or does it mean they got the same questions right or the same score? Or does it mean that the majority of their answers we're the same (which is the most suspicious but still jot evidence of cheating)?

I agree. I saw one non-Col. Conf posting on the internet where it really sounded, to me,as if the kid was guilty (got a 32? or 34? the second time but has straight Bs in school and refuses to retake the test). It sounded like, in that case, the student was notified in a timely manner and would have time to retake it close to the original tutoring.

 

 

Also, the higher the scores, the more answers kids are going to have to have the same, just because 2 people getting a perfect score will *have* to have 100% the same answers, no? Now, for the kids who get accused with a score of 25, yeah, that'd be plenty of answers wrong to be able to say, hm, that's some statistically unlikely number of answers the same, but, with the huge numbers of students taking the tests, some kid somewhere is likely to have a statistically unlikely number of answers the same as some other kid they're sitting near, just because of the big numbers. And, like you said, being taught by the same teacher. Not that I'm saying all these students are necessarily falsely accused... odds are some aren't, but we don't know which, and, we have too little info.

 

Getting a really high score while being a B student isn't that odd... some kids just slack in school and have a "good enough" kind of attitude, while being bright enough to score really high on a test that doesn't require studying for (like, you won't do well on say, a biology test in school just because you have some kickass reading comprehension, but you can score high on the SAT/ACT that way). The main thing I'm thinking is that it'd be weird to be a B student in math while scoring really high on that on the test, but if the school is making a large part of the math grade based on homework, I could see that too with a bright kid who just never does the homework and/or never hands in the homework. 

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Btw, for the people who get flagged for score drops, I wonder if it's easy to fight it if they either obviously drew some pattern in the bubbles (like a huge smiley face) or just answer b for everything or something. I don't think my kids will be in this situation, but when they're older I'll definitely advise them to not just randomly bubble stuff in if they have to take a test for dumb bureaucratic reasons, but to just leave it completely blank, or make it VERY obvious that they didn't attempt to answer anything.

 

ETA: or, obviously, to actually try their best on the test, but I don't know to what degree I'd be able to convince teen boys to do that.

Edited by luuknam

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While score jumps may have flagged these students, it seems they also have identical answers to someone sitting close to them.

  

I don't know. I'm not convinced that all these kids were falsely accused. This isn't to say that ACT couldn't do more to stop cheating or find better algorithms to identify cheating. And they definitely need to notify people much faster when this happens. The only reason I'm posting is because I don't think most students/parents have anything to worry about. I feel like the sense of outrage needs to be tempered by the fact that we don't know the whole story here.

The seating charts may not be accurate and/or the kids may have been far enough apart that they couldn't see each other's papers even if they appeared to be seated "next to each other" on the chart. The student whose mother started the big CC thread said that the seating chart they received from the ACT was not accurate, plus the form that the proctor was supposed to have filled out checking off that all proper procedures were followed was blank. It's possible that seats were preassigned in the chart, but the proctor didn't follow the chart and never bothered to fill in the paperwork either. If the proctor that is paid by ACT does not do their job properly, then that's on ACT. In those cases they should either throw out all student scores or give students the benefit of the doubt. If they threw out all scores whenever a proctor messes up, then I'd bet schools would make sure the proctors are diligent about recording accurate seating charts and following all procedures to the letter.

 

Also, that particular student took the test again one month later, at a different school with a different proctor and different kids, and got the exact same score (25), yet ACT refused to allow the second score to count as validation of the first. Instead they threw both scores out, even though they did not seem to find any evidence of "similar answers" on the second one, and they insisted that the student take it yet again, even though by then it was spring of senior year.

 

Personally I think that mom got a little carried away with defending her daughter's honor and fighting ACT on principle, but I don't think she realized when she started the process that there is literally no way to win an appeal with ACT. At least her campaign may have helped to raise awareness of the process for anyone who faces this in the future.

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...

Getting a really high score while being a B student isn't that odd... some kids just slack in school and have a "good enough" kind of attitude, while being bright enough to score really high on a test that doesn't require studying for (like, you won't do well on say, a biology test in school just because you have some kickass reading comprehension, but you can score high on the SAT/ACT that way). The main thing I'm thinking is that it'd be weird to be a B student in math while scoring really high on that on the test, but if the school is making a large part of the math grade based on homework, I could see that too with a bright kid who just never does the homework and/or never hands in the homework. 

 

I agree.  Don't we all know someone like that?    It was me.  I figured out somewhere in Junior High that if you scored really well on the tests, and didn't cause problems in class, they'd never give you below a B even if you turned in NO homework.  So, if I felt like doing homework I turned it in, otherwise no.   I wasn't in the top quartile of my school but I scored top 2% on the SAT.  

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