Thursday, January 03, 2019

Did She Cheat?

Did she cheat, or is this a modern version of Stand and Deliver?
Kamilah Campbell wants to go to Florida State University and major in dance. She has a 3.1 grade point average and a lifetime of dance experience.

But after getting her score from the SAT after her first try -- a 900 -- Campbell decided she needed to do better. Her mom got her a tutor, she took online classes and she got a copy of a The Princeton Review prep book.

Seven months later, in October, the high school senior from Miami Gardens, Florida, took the test again.

Later, when she got an envelope in the mail from the testing company, she was shocked when she opened it.

It was a letter. Not results.

"We are writing to you because based on a preliminary review, there appears to be substantial evidence that your scores ... are invalid," it said. "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."
Which explanation seems the least likely?
1)  A statistical analysis of her answers showed anomalies that were flagged.
2)  She cheated on the test.
3)  The College Board has it in for this one black student.

Wait, what?  How did this become an issue of race, you might ask?  Here's how:
Prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, a Florida State graduate, got involved when other FSU alums asked him to help. He is steering Campbell and her mother through the process of demanding The College Board validate her score in time for her to be accepted into the Florida State dance program.  (boldface mine--Darren)
So, back to my three explanations.  Which one seems the least likely?

This story is a little more militant right out of the gate. It describes Kamilah as an "honors student".  An honors student who scored 900 on the SAT, and on her second try scored 1230.  Still seems a bit low for an "honors student".

And an attorney should know better than to make remarks as stupid as these:
Crump said ETS violated Kamilah’s constitutional right to be considered innocent until proved guilty and denied Kamilah due process. In order to take the SAT, Kamilah had no choice but to agree to arbitration in the event of a dispute and forgo her right to a court hearing, according to a press release. ETS gave Campbell two options: abandon the higher score or retake the test and score within six points of it.

Campbell, her family and Crump are demanding the score be released within two weeks. If ETS does not release the score, Crump said the family will explore every possible legal remedy.
When I read that, it seems clear that Kamilah and her attorney are just playing the race card.  The College Board may be right, or it may be wrong, but it's not acting unconstitutionally.  Sheesh.


Ellen K said...

Of course they're playing the race card. It's just another play in the book.

Education Realist said...

By the way, the Stand and Deliver kids *did* cheat. That's what the College Board and the ETS picked up.

And yes, it's very likely that not just she, but a good chunk of the room, cheated.

Darren said...

If true, I wasn't aware of this regarding the Garfield kids (from Education Realist's link):
"But a book I wrote about Escalante showed that at least nine students were involved in copying an answer for one question on the first test and then proved in the retest that they knew their subject and that our academic expectations for inner-city children were much too low...

At Garfield, it took me five years to get to the truth of that one incident. Ten students agreed to sign waivers so the College Board could show me their exam papers. The calculus test was a distant memory, their lives were going well and I think they assumed that since their old teacher blessed my book project, I would reveal nothing that put them in a bad light. I thought my inspection of the exams would clear them.

Instead, I found that nine of the 10 had made identical silly mistakes on free-response question number 6. That could only mean at least eight had copied from the same source, perhaps the ninth person. I got two of them to admit that in a moment of panic near the end of the exam, somebody had passed around a piece of paper with that flawed solution.

Yet they knew their stuff, and would have done no worse if they hadn't cheated. The counselor who proctored the exam apparently missed the note-passing. When the nine students whom I knew had cheated, plus three more, retook the exam in August -- with little time to review and two proctors watching their every move -- they once again did very well, mostly 4s and 5s on the 5-point exam. The answer to the important question was obvious: They learned a lot.

Retesting is a standard option for AP exams when results are questioned."

Ellen K said...

College board does us no favors in the draconian way they write questions and set the timing standards. I remember reading a few years back when an entire class from a well known upper crust DFW school cheated on the AP exams and got caught. Frankly until AP starts justifying its high cost (our kids get no break on the $92 per test fee) by going head to head with colleges and asking why credit received is such a variable entity. My daughter said the AP courses she took were much harder than comparable college courses she was forced to take because her college wouldn't accept AP credit. In one case a boy made fives on every single AP test he took from English Comp to AP Chem to Calculus and the only credit UT would give him was the Spanish language AP credit. This is because they want freshmen to pay tuition and fund grad student jobs.

KJ said...

From the other side of the issue than Ellen K, I've taught at schools which stopped accepting AP credit for Chemistry. There are real reasons for not giving credit for an AP test beyond some conspiracy to fund graduate students (there aren't sufficient numbers of AP students to significantly alter the number of TAs needed). I have never seen a student in general chemistry- at any school I've taught- who found the course substantially easier than their HS course. In fairness, I have taught an honors general chemistry which covered an entire year of general chemistry in one semester; we only allowed students who had taken AP chemistry into that course, and it's possible that some of them (but certainly not all) would have found the regular course easier than their AP course. General Chemistry may be the most likely science course to be found easier than a very good HS course; we have an extremely broad range of HS backgrounds (from no explicit chemistry and no real lab experience to multiple years and advanced laboratory experiments) coming in to our program.

Apparently, AP changed the emphasis a few years ago to be more "conceptual."The biggest problems I've seen with students who got AP credit are an absolute lack (for obvious reasons) of experimental ability and an overemphasis on trivial calculations, rather than understanding or ability to solve multistep reasoning problems. The former is a much bigger problem- students get into more advanced labs than their actual lab skills would support. In many smaller schools, where the lab is integrated with the lecture, this can cause real problems. I've had students in organic (or higher) labs who didn't have the basic skills of general chemistry lab students- and they lacked the context to apply the knowledge they gained from the theoretical side. So when asked, for example, to calculate the mass of a compound needed to be 2.45 mmol, they could do that with no problem. Asked in the lab to determine what volume of a liquid reactant they needed to be a 20% mole excess over 1.342 g of another reactant, they were completely paralyzed. This is the type of lab calculation we expect a sophomore-level organic student to have learned to do in their general chemistry labs.

Upper-division lab experiments are developed with a time constraint in mind. The expected time to complete the experiment is based on what we expect our students to be able to do at that point in their academic careers. When a student is substantially behind that expectation, we have to either overstay the lab (not always possible due to time constraints and lab usage), cut material from the experiment (which lessens the abilities of all our students moving forward and leaves them less prepared for future labs or employment), or arrange extra sessions with a small number of students (which can also be a scheduling problem, both in terms of faculty time and lab space).

Separating the labs from the lectures isn't a real solution, either. Our students need both the lecture experience and the lab experience; we work hard to make our labs reinforce the material covered in the lectures and to extend the students exposure to lab techniques for use in later labs. So taking organic lecture while taking general chemistry lab creates a different issue with the student. It also puts them behind in the prerequisite chain (they need organic lab before they take biochem lab, for instance).

Ellen K said...

I still contend that a kid who makes all fives on a number of exams across the board may be due more consideration than simply forcing him to take a course which he will probably ace. BTW, that particular kid when he found out UT wasn't going to give him much credit chose to attend Elon and now works for Google as one of their system architects. It seems Elon didn't have a problem with his AP scores.