A Florida high school senior said she’s been accused of cheating on the SAT after her score improved by over 300 points, prompting the testing company to render her score “invalid.”
Kamilah Campbell initially scored a 900 on the college entrance exam without any prep work. Campbell, who hopes to study dance at Florida State University, said she took the test the first time to get a “baseline” and that counselors suggested she take the exam without any prep work.
“I just took it to get a feel for how I was so I could know my strengths and weaknesses in the test,” Campbell told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Friday.
Seven months later, the Miami Gardens teen would take the exam again, this time hiring a tutor, taking online classes and studying with a copy of the Princetown Review’s prep book. Campbell received an envelope in the mail with what she thought were her test scores, but it wasn’t.
It was a letter from The College Board’s “Educational Testing Service” (ETS) she said essentially accused her of cheating.
“We’re writing you because based on a preliminary review, there appears to be substantial evidence that your scores on the October 6, 2018 SAT are invalid,” the letter provided to Atlanta Black Star via Campbell’s attorney stated. “Our preliminary concerns are based on substantial agreement between your answers on one or more scored sections of the test and those of other test takers. The anomalies noted above raise concerns about the validity of your scores.”
Campbell called The College Board to get to the bottom of the issue and was told she received a combined score of 1230 on her second attempt. A 1600 is a perfect score on the SAT.
The rising senior told CNN she believes her results were flagged because her second score was so much higher than the first. Despite the jump, Campbell insists she did not cheat on the exam.
“I did not cheat. I studied, and I focused to achieve my dreams …,” she said at a press conference Wednesday “To have your effort taken away from you, and them saying, ‘Oh well, we think you cheated.’ It’s not fair.”
“I worked so hard and did everything I could do,” she added.
Campbell has since hired prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump to aid her in demanding The College Board validate her test scores in time to be accepted into Florida State’s dance program. Crump said the testing company has two weeks to respond to a demand letter.
“Instead of celebrating her and celebrating her achievement, they are trying to assassinate her character, and we won’t stand for that,” he said.
The local NAACP, at least two Miami-Dade School Board members and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson has joined Campbell’s fight.
“I think it is high time that we elevate the discussion around this issue, and what the data will reflect is that too often, there’s issues that malign certain communities, certain children, specifically children of color,” a representative from the NAACP said during a press conference on Friday.
Wilson also released a statement Friday.
“As a mother and a former educator, I was extremely disappointed to learn that Kamilah Campbell’s SAT score is being challenged after she showed marked improvement in the second exam. It is my understanding that the first test that she took was a practice round for which she had not prepared. Before taking the second test, however, she spent a significant amount of time studying and took an SAT prep course. Her hard work and diligence paid off and she increased her score by about 300 points.”
The testing company has denied the claims, however, and said scores are never canceled based on gains alone. College Board spokesman Zach Goldberg said a score can be flagged for other reasons, including testing sheets having similar answers or an incident happening at a testing site.
The ETS booklet “How and Why ETS Questions Test Scores” explains that “questions about score validity may also arise from inquiries from colleges, universities and other score users about the validity of particular scores; communication from test center supervisors, proctors and other test takers; and other internal and external sources of information.”
“If ETS has concerns about the validity of a test score, we give the test taker an opportunity to respond and select an option for resolving the matter,” it continues. “If the matter cannot be resolved, ETS will cancel the questioned score.”
Score reviews typically take between four and six weeks to complete, Goldberg said.
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