Assessment

College Board Says SATs Didn't Include Questions Exposed in Breach

The nonprofit College Board, which administers the SAT, said no version of the standardized test given this past weekend contained any of the 400 unpublished questions that were exposed in a massive security breach that occurred earlier this year.

The widely accepted college admissions exam — which was recently redesigned — was administered nationally and internationally Saturday, Oct. 1.

In a statement issued Aug. 3, the College Board called the breach “a serious criminal matter” and vowed to take the “stolen content off of the SAT administration schedule while we continue to monitor and analyze the situation.”

A person with access to the questions for upcoming exams had provided news agency Reuters with hundreds of confidential test items, the agency reported in August. The confidential items included 21 reading passages — each with about a dozen questions — and about 160 math problems.

On Aug. 26, the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized computers and other materials from the home of Manuel Alfaro, who left his job as executive director and assessment design and development at the College Board in February 2015, Reuters reported. He worked at the College Board for 21 months.

According to a search warrant issued in the case, the FBI is investigating alleged computer intrusion and theft against an unidentified “victim corporation” involving “confidential or proprietary information,” including tests, test forms and internal e-mails.

Alfaro claimed that the College Board misled at least seven states about the process it used to create questions for the newly redesigned version of the SAT, resulting in an inferior exam. He also alleged that the College Board failed to follow its own specifications in developing the math sections of the new SAT. Alfaro aired those allegations publicly, primarily through postings on his LinkedIn account.

Independent testing specialists have said the breach represents one of the most serious security lapses to be made public in the history of college admissions testing, Reuters said.

The College Board did not comment on whether those unpublished questions would ever be used on a future SAT exam.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at rchang@1105media.com.

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