FBI Raids Home of Ex-College Board Official After SAT Leak

FBI agents searched the home of a former employee of the College Board, the nonprofit company that administers the SAT, as part of an investigation into the breach and release of hundreds of questions from future SAT college entrance exams.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation seized computers and other materials Friday from Manuel Alfaro, who left his job as executive director of assessment design and development at the College Board in February 2015, according to news agency Reuters. The FBI is investigating alleged computer intrusion and theft against an unidentified “victim corporation” involving “confidential or proprietary information,” Reuters said, including tests, test forms and internal e-mails, according to a search warrant issued in the case.

Alfaro had contacted members of seven state governments in recent months, accusing the College Board of making false claims about its tests when bidding for public contracts with the states, Reuters reported. The College Board, he claimed, misled the states about the process it used to create questions for the newly redesigned version of the SAT, resulting in an inferior exam, Alfaro said. He also aired those allegations publicly, primarily through postings on his LinkedIn account.

Lawyers for Alfaro could not be reached for comment. An FBI representative confirmed to Reuters that agents were present at Alfaro’s home in Maryland but declined to elaborate.

College Board spokesman Zach Goldberg said the leak of test questions constituted a crime. “We are pleased that this crime is being pursued aggressively,” he said. He dismissed Alfaro’s criticisms of the SAT test-making process as “patently false.”

The FBI raid comes after Reuters reported earlier this month that the news agency had obtained about 400 unpublished questions from the newly redesigned SAT exam, which debuted in March. Some experts said the leak constituted one of the most serious breaches of security ever to come to light in the standardized testing industry.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].