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Testing in doubt after SAT errors Regular audits called for on exams that mean much in college admissions process

It's hard to overestimate how pressure-packed the whole college admissions process can be for high school students and their families. The last thing they need is to find out key test results sent to colleges were lower than students really scored.

Scoring errors on thousands of the College Board's October SAT tests were disclosed by Pearson Educational Measurement, a major company in the standardized testing business. Most of the students affected had higher scores than were reported to colleges.

Scores were off by as many as 400 points out of 2,400 on the exams covering mathematics, reading and writing. Pearson, administering the SATs for only a few years, should have an independent, outside auditor vetting these test scores regularly.

The SAT errors affected 4,000 students out of 495,000 who took the October test. The only reason errors were discovered is because a couple of those students brought the discrepancies to officials' attention. While no single test should make the difference between academic life or death, the fact is these students had a lot riding on the results. Reports show that at least one applicant, whose SAT score was revised upward by more than 100 points, then qualified for the Franklin & Marshall College's merit-based scholarship of $12,500.

These careless errors have only served to prove a larger point by those who oppose standardized testing. President Bush's No Child Left Behind Law and its pressure for more state standardized testing should be examined.

Meanwhile, an outside auditor really ought to check and recheck the College Board's SAT test scoring.

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