SAT troubles push College Board to online solution

Would electronic testing be less troubled than electronic voting? In the light of debacle that underreported students' scores, College Board needs a robust answer.

In an effort to avoid the scoring error debacle last fall, the College Board is moving towards putting the SAT test online, eSchool News reports. In a new report, the board also states that measures to improve scanning procedures are underway, but the overall the scoring system is reliable.

Doubts about the reliability of the scoring system came under scrutiny after more than 4,000 SATs taken last October were given incorrectly low scores. The College Board says that humidity affected the readability and steps have been taken to eliminate error.

The consulting firm of Booz Allen Hamilton said that there are continued risks, such as scanners being affected by debris or misinterpreting erased marks. Critics of the College Board questioned the objectivity of Booz Allen, which received $5.2 million in consulting fees from the board in the year ending June 30, 2005, according to a report in the New York Times.

"After all the noise and all the promises, they still haven't answered those questions," said Robert Schaeffer, a College Board critic with the group FairTest. "It's going to be another arena where they're answered--presumably the courts." .

Although there are security risks to having the SAT online, and pilot testing showed certain hardware limitations, the Board's long-term goal is an online model.