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Settlement in Suit Over SAT Errors

August 27, 2007

The College Board and NCS Pearson have agreed to pay $2.85 million to settle a class action filed on behalf of people who received incorrect scores on the October 2005 version of the SAT. The College Board owns the SAT and Pearson scored the tests on which errors were made.

A tentative settlement was announced Friday by the two testing entities and lawyers who filed the class action. About 4,400 people -- or about 1 percent of those who took the test that month -- are in the class because their scores were reported incorrectly. Under the planned settlement, they will have two options. They can fill out a short form to automatically receive $275, or they can provide more information -- if they believe that their damages were greater -- and a retired judge will make binding decisions on how much they are entitled to receive.

The settlement could bring to a close one of the more embarrassing mistakes in SAT history. Reports about the scoring errors came throughout 2006 -- at a time that more colleges were going SAT-optional or considering such a switch. While the College Board said as soon as the problems materialized that it was instituting new safeguards, it was widely criticized for being less than forthright about what it was doing. For weeks, the College Board and a New York State Senate committee dueled over how much information about the errors the board should release. The class action further complicated the situation.

Edna Johnson, a spokeswoman for the College Board, said that there were no other pending suits against the College Board in relation to the SAT errors. She also said that she knew of no circumstances in which test takers had experienced damages in excess of $275.

Bob Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing, a critic of the College Board and the SAT, called the settlement significant.

"Payment of nearly $3 million by the College Board and Pearson is a significant admission of the real harm done by the October 2005 scoring error," he said. "This case is an important reminder that tests are imperfect products that should not be relied upon to make high-stakes judgments about students, teachers or the quality of education."

 

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