Written by HyunCheon Kim / Translated by JaeMin Woo
As investigation on a leak of SAT answers has begun in Korea, Innocent students are expected to be affected as well as the cheaters.
In a similar case in 2007, ETS (Educational Testing Service), the SAT conductor, discovered that some students had acquired the answers before taking the exams, and canceled all 900 students’ scores sent from Korea.
High-Tech Crimes Department of Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office announced that it had initiated search and seizure in 6 language institutes in the Gangnam area that were deemed suspicious. One of these search and seizures was done on the 21st, and in two more search were done on the 27th.
Moreover, the prosecutor said that it found evidence of language institutes buying tests from brokers or hiring students to leak tests from Southeast Asia.
Also, it has been confirmed that one of the 8 accused institutes was established by Jeffrey Son, the main culprit in the case from 2007.
On January 27th, 2007, Son, who was charged without imprisonment after the incident, uploaded answers on his own internet café to the SAT that was to be taken in New York the same day.”
He was able to acquire leaked tests from brokers or hired students by taking advantage of the time differences in the two countries.
Many parents of Korean international students in the area responded rather nonchalantlyto this incident. They believed that suspicion intensifies only when the incidents are exposed through official investigations, but the leaks will not be stopped in the near future.
Prejudice towards Korean students reduces their opportunities
The parents were more concerned about the possibility of innocent students being affected by this incident. EunMi Lee, a mother of an 11th grader, heatedly argued that “it’s unfair for hard working innocent students to compete with the students who cheat their way to elite universities.”
Also, the possibility of Korean students being affected by Koreans’ deteriorating reputation has been pointed out.
An education expert said, “Many high school and college admission officers are questioning the legitimacy of SAT and SSAT scores sent from Korea, and they are also aware of the possibilities of purchased essays being sent for admission applications. When competing with students from China, India, Singapore and other countries, Korean students will be at a disadvantage.”
However, despite the strong opposition from Korean students and parents in the United Sates, it is unlikely that the circumstances in Korea will change.
Another parent stated that it is a trend in the Gangnam area for the instructors who are accused of leaking tests to gain popularity and higher salaries, and that the official investigations operated by various authorities are essentially useless.
Kang, who moved to Boston from Gangnam a year ago, revealed that “in these cases, the accused teachers will gain popularity for their guarantee of raising students’ scores.”
What is causing these test leaks?
The question of continuous SAT leaks can be answered by the agreement between parents who are seeking to send their kids to elite universities and the teachers who are looking for higher salaries.
Seung Jun Oh, the principal of SD Academy, explained this phenomenon using supply and demand in the college prep market. He said, “many teachers in language institutes are committing these crimes for students and their parents who are used to competitive college prep culture in Korea and are doing everything they can to improve their SAT scores.”
Competition between institutes is another cause of the problem.
According to Open Doors, the number of students in Korea applying for the universities in America has been decreasing since 2006-2008. With an increasing number of language institutes, the competition to gain the title of “guarantee of higher scores” and “best predictions of tests” has been intensified.
Sophia Park, the president of Wise Prep, added that “the institutes had to compete to acquire leaked tests as the ability of obtaining these tests overshadowed the teacher and institute’s ability to teach.”
These institutes with leaked tests were then considered to have the best “prediction” for the future tests. Parents began to look for institutes that had access to leaked tests and this tempted more instructors to seek them.
Joon Ki Jung, the president of Boston Education World, strongly suggested that “the Korean government and ETS must take action because the parents openly prefer institutes that have accessed leaked tests over the ones that don’t.”
He further suggested harsh punishments such as cancelling students’ scores, exposing their crimes to college admission offices, expelling instructors from institutes and revealing the names of students’ parents.
ⓒ 보스톤코리아(http://www.bostonkorea.com), 무단전재 및 재배포 금지