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Local students worry about having SAT scores invalidated

Area high school students who took the SAT on May 3 at Providence High remain anxious and in limbo this weekend after learning Friday that their test results might be invalid.

The Educational Testing Service, which administers the SAT for the College Board, said in a statement late Friday that it had launched an investigation after being notified that “students may not have been seated appropriately according to the test administration and security guidelines provided to Test Center Supervisors in advance of the exam.”

ETS said it’s still working to complete the investigation and will contact students directly about their scores, according to the statement. “We know these students have worked hard to prepare for the SAT and regret any inconvenience this may cause.”

ETS official spokesman Tom Ewing said Saturday he did not yet know how many students took the test that day, although some parents estimated several hundred could be affected.

Between word-of-mouth and social media, questions about the potential invalidation of scores and the need to retake the test spread rapidly among students and parents over the past couple of days. They said the lack of information from Charlotte- Mecklenburg Schools and test administrators has many people frustrated and worried about the impact a delay in test results could have on college application deadlines.

Some parents questioned whether every room used for the SATs failed to meet test requirements, why the issue wasn’t corrected at the time and why students were allowed to proceed with the exam if officials knew there were violations that could possibly void test scores.

Students such as Reed Guthrie, Providence High junior class president, have been waiting anxiously for their results and frequently checked the College Board’s website.

But instead of finding test scores online Friday, Guthrie said he and other students found information about how to retake the exam. Guthrie worries that any delay in reporting his scores could interfere with his plans to apply to the United States Naval Academy by the end of the summer.

CMS spokeswoman Tahira Stalberte said district officials contacted the College Board late Friday but have little information. “The SAT is administered by the College Board. All the rules and regulations and information about what happened would have to come from (them),” she said.

Mitch and Cecilia Richman, whose daughter, Tori, is a junior at Providence High, said they’ve been told by College Board customer service representatives that the scores have been invalidated, and students could get a refund of the $75 exam fee or retake the test June 21.

Anita Gimon’s son, Aidan, attends Marvin Ridge High in Waxhaw and took the May 3 SAT at Providence. She said the uncertainty of having to take the lengthy test again places unfair stress on students.

“The best-case scenario would be for the College Board to say, … ‘There’s no evidence of cheating. We’ll give your kids their scores.’ I’m not holding my breath to that.”

Invalidating scores from an entire SAT test session appears to be relatively rare.

The New York Times reported in May 2012 that nearly 200 students who took the test at a Brooklyn private school had to retake the exam after an ETS auditor reported that proctors had been careless, allowing students to choose where they sat and leaving test booklets unattended, among other infractions.

Trenda: 704-358-5089; Twitter: @htrenda
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