Hundreds of confidential questions have been leaked online from the recently-released version of the SAT exam.
The College Board, the non-profit testing company that organizes the SAT college entrance exam used each year across the world, redesigned the exam in 2012. The following year, consulting firm Gartner pushed for the company to place better protection over the questions that were under development for the exam. In 2014, employees for the College Board suggested that access to the testing material and the answer key should be limited, reports Shawn Knight for TechSpot.
However, late last week a person with access to the testing material offered hundreds of questions, including 21 reading passages with questions and answers and 160 math problems, to Reuters.
The publication stated that it was unaware how widely spread the test items were, but they had no evidence that the material had ended up in the hands of "bad actors," those that they said "will lie, cheat and steal for personal gain." According to independent testing specialists who were made aware of the situation, the breach is considered to be one of the most serious security lapses in the history of college admissions testing.
Meanwhile, Sandra Riley, vice president of communications at College Board, said that the organization would be working toward containing any damage resulting from the leak:
"[One] thing I want to emphasize is that no students are affected by this. I want to avoid any confusion that would cause unnecessary anxiety among students," said Riley.
Valerie Strauss writes for The Washington Post that questions still remain concerning the validity of the exam. It remains to be seen if the College Board will continue to use the questions leaked to Reuters in upcoming exams, or if high schools that use the SAT for accountability purposes will be concerned about the information it provides about students. In addition, the incident raises questions about whether the College Board will be able to stop security breaches.
Security breaches have existed overseas for a number of years, mainly as a result of the College Board reusing questions from exams that had already been given in the United States. Test-prep companies were able to send participants to the United States in order to take the exam or otherwise obtain test questions by memorizing them or illegally obtaining them. Chat boards where students posted questions were monitored.
Test scores from the exam were withheld from students across Asia for several years. In addition, the entire May 2013 administration of the SAT and SAT Subject tests were cancelled throughout South Korea due to leaked questions.
An analysis performed by Reuters showed that at least five times in the last three years, high school students in the United States took SAT exams that included questions and answers that had been easily accessible online for at least a year before they took the exam.
Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the nonprofit National Center for Fair and Open Testing, or FairTest, said that ongoing security problems with both the SAT and ACT were influencing factors in the decision of many admissions offices to put test-optional policies in place for the past two years.
It was not noted whether any upcoming tests would be delayed or canceled as a result. The next round of testing is currently scheduled to take place in October.