Twenty students linked to five Long Island high schools have been charged with being part of an SAT test-taking scam. They were accused of accepting payments to take the SAT and ACT college entrance exams posing as other students over the last three years. A principal at one of the high schools says he believes such cheating is pervasive throughout the system. “I think it’s widespread across the country,” he told the New York Times yesterday. Authorities, tipped off by rumors, began investigating after noticing widespread disparities between grades and test scores in the area. One of the first students arrested was accused of taking the SAT for six different students, including a girl, at a cost of up to $3,500 per test.
The students face a range of charges from felony counts of scheming to defraud to misdemeanors for falsifying business records and criminal impersonation. An attorney for one of the students argued that the situation should be handled by the schools, and not in the courts. “While no one condones cheating, we have a school system that is separate and apart from the criminal justice system, and we have that for good reason,” he said. But Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice disagrees, saying: "This is a crime. Make no mistake, as the system stands now, hard-working students are taking a back seat to the cheaters.”