SAT Administrators Think It’s Impossible for This Black Girl to Have Raised Her Score by 300 Points

Jan 3, 2019 12:00:00 AM

by Rob Samuelson

The number 22 stared me in the face. “Well, that’s as good as it’s gonna get, I guess,” I said with a shrug as I reviewed my ACT score when I was 17. My mom, my sisters, my friends all said, “Nah, try it again and see what happens.” A few months later, some lucky Scantron guesses made all the difference and I raised my score to 25. I was praised for “hard work” when I hadn’t even cracked open an ACT prep book and spent my part-time job’s money on CDs instead of the ACT tutoring class offered at school. I had no pride in my new score, but I wasn’t about to say anything because it got me into a college that U.S. News & World Report ranks ninth in the Midwest. [pullquote]Nobody questioned me. Nobody was suspicious.[/pullquote] Nobody said jack shit about me “cheating” to improve my score, which is what SAT administrators are saying South Florida high school senior Kamilah Campbell did on her second attempt at the test back in October.

This Is What We Call the Belief Gap

Kamilah’s first score of 900, achieved a year earlier when she was a junior, did not meet the requirements for her to attend Florida State University (FSU), her first choice. So she enrolled in a SAT prep tutoring course, found a study-and-accountability buddy in her honor-student friend Temprest (their study sessions were supervised by Temprest’s mom), spoke with her teachers about how she could improve and she retook the test as a senior in October. The result? A score “over 1200.” She doesn’t know the exact number because Educational Testing Service (ETS), a part of the College Board which administers the standardized test, won’t release her score due to what they call “abnormalities” on sections of it. According to PrepScholar’s SAT-ACT comparison calculator, my score jumped 3 points on the ACT, equivalent to 100 points on the SAT. That was without studying or effort. Is it really unbelievable that a girl who gave her all into doing better, which I didn't do, jumped 300 points? I don't think it is. Despite written testimony from her teachers, ETS continues to drag its feet on verifying her results—a process that could take another four to six weeks. As a result, Kamilah missed the January 1 deadline to enroll in FSU’s summer program. You can make your own conclusions from there about what that means for the belief gap.

Prove It Or Give This Kid Her Due

This test brags about its security measures, is supposed to have its questions randomized annually (except when they themselves screw that up by reusing entire sections two years in a row) and is overseen by on-site proctors. It’s really hard to cheat. If ETS can prove that Kamilah cheated, [pullquote position="right"]they better put up or shut up promptly.[/pullquote] Because the longer they refuse to answer the media’s requests for detailed comment, the weaker their claims become. The simplest explanation is that Kamilah actually worked hard, learned the material and accomplished what she set out to do. Hell, even if she were like me and made lucky guesses, or got a better night’s sleep the night before her second attempt, or improved due to any number of factors, she shouldn’t be punished. She shouldn’t have her future put on hold. So let’s get a quick resolution to this. Let’s verify Kamilah’s score so that she can have that 1200 staring her in the face.

Rob Samuelson

Rob Samuelson is a Staff Writer at Education Post and Digital Media Manager for the brightbeam network.

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