January 25, 2010 12:32
Educational Testing Service, the U.S. company that administers the Scholastic Aptitude Test and various other English proficiency tests, has dispatched staff to conduct an independent probe into the leak of SAT test papers following the arrest of two Korean lecturers who allegedly helped students cheat. The staffers handed over their findings and filed a complaint with Korean authorities.
The two ETS staffers arrived in Korea last Thursday on a fact-finding mission and handed over to police data they had compiled since 2007 about such incidents. ETS promised to investigate all incidents thoroughly and inform universities where students found to have cheated on the test are studying. ETS said it may beef up security measures for all SAT tests taken in Korea depending on the results of the investigation.
Korean police on Sunday said the ETS data included a blacklist of suspected cheaters on the SAT.
Just when the ETS staffers were visiting, another test leak was reported on Saturday, prompting police to widen the investigation. The incident follows less than a week after the first one, where an SAT lecturer at a private crammer in the affluent Gangnam District obtained a copy of the SAT from a Thai student who took the exam in Bangkok in January and, taking advantage of the time difference, allegedly emailed the test paper and answer sheets to two Korean students who took the same test twelve hours later in Connecticut.
Private crammers in Gangnam blame the back-to-back instances of cheating on the highly competitive atmosphere in the industry. "SAT crammers charge high fees because they teach only during vacation when students abroad return to Korea," said one owner of a crammer in Gangnam. "Students and parents expect to see scores improve significantly given the money they spend, and I am aware of frequent instances of leaked tests."
Gangnam crammers offer special vacation crash courses and charge millions of won. One crammer in Apgujeong-dong charges W5 million a month (US$1=W1,146) for five hours of lectures a day. Successful tutors can make nine-figure salaries. Another owner of a crammer said since there are more than 100 SAT crammers in Seoul alone, getting hold of leaked copies of the SAT is a sort of "survival tactic."
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