(Memphis) Three hundred students from across the Memphis metro area took the SAT test at Ridgeway High School on June 2nd, but more than half of them are thrown out with the remaining tests under review.
"The students must obviously be very disappointed, because they did study as you said, and took the test and thought they were done with it. But now of course they’re not. And that’s very unfortunate," said Tom Ewing, a spokesman for Educational Testing Service.
Educational Testing Service, or ETS, designs and administers the SAT and advanced placement programs for the College Board.
ETS said that after parents called about that test day, they discovered the test was administered at least an hour late, with students sitting too close together.
"Apparently some of the proctors and staff called in sick, or were unable to make the test date. And that sort of complicated matters, and I had heard that there were other things going on at the school at the time," Ewing said.
Memphis City Schools only provides a testing location, which in this case was Ridgeway High School. The test itself is administered by proctors ETS hires, which includes some local school employees.
MCS said there was summer school registration going on that day on a separate floor, with a separate entrance. The school system said it is otherwise not in charge of the SAT testing.
Helen Zhang, a student from Germantown High School, was among the test-takers.
"They had one person checking the tickets and stuff. So if there were 160 kids there, then it took a long time," Zhang said.
The 160 students registered to take the SAT I were finally seated at least an hour late. Another 139 students took the SAT II subject test in different rooms.
While she was waiting, Zhang texted her mother.
"I was surprised. I said, what? She said mom, I haven’t taken the test yet," said Katherine Kong, Zhang's mother.
The students then sat at round cafeteria lunch tables, with four or five of them to one table. They were close enough to see each other's tests.
The collegeboard.org website states people who took the test on June 2nd should receive their scores on June 21st. Instead, the students received this email:
"Dear Test Taker:
Thank you for choosing to take the SAT exam on June 2, 2012 at Ridgeway High School. We regret to inform you that certain administrative irregularities were reported at your center on test day. After an investigation of the reported irregularities, ETS has determined that the June 2nd SAT scores from the SAT administration at this school cannot be validated and as a result, no scores will be reported.
We are in the process of scheduling a makeup test and will notify you of the date, time and location as soon as possible. Scores from the makeup test will be processed and reported to designated score recipients as June 2, 2012 scores.
We are sorry for the inconvenience and disappointment this situation may cause. While it is always difficult to inform students of score invalidations, ensuring a standardized, fair testing experience for all students must always be our top priority.
Further information will be provided in the communication about the makeup test. If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact SAT Customer Service at 1-866-756-7346 from inside the United States or dial +1 212-713-7789 from outside the U.S.
Another 139 students who took the SAT II subject tests in separate classrooms have been informed that their tests are now under review.
ETS does not have an estimate for when a decision will be reached, but a spokesman said the review will be done as quickly as possible.
Helen Zhang said the wait to take the test that morning was so long, she felt tired.
"I definitely don’t think I did the best I could have, because we were just...I was already putting my head on the table, just falling asleep," she said.
The test is standardized across the country so all students take it under the same conditions. That means strict procedures and timing, which were not followed June 2nd.
Many students like Zhang studied very hard to make sure their scores would get them to their dream colleges. Now, they'll have to take it again.
"I’m kind of relieved, but kind of let down too," Zhang said.
The 160 students who took the SAT I can either take a make-up test, which will be scheduled as soon as possible, take a later test, or get a refund of their $50 registration fee.
The 139 students who took the SAT II subject test will have to wait for the result of the review.
"It’s very frustrating. Just feel like so unlucky," said Katherine Kong. "We just hope this kind of thing won’t happen again."
ETS said since the beginning of 2012, there have been four cases nationwide of invalidated tests, including the incident at Ridgeway High School. Other incidents involved false fire alarms during the test and use of student cell phones.