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Florida teen drops lawsuit to validate SAT score that was flagged as suspicious

Posted at 8:25 AM, Feb 08, 2019

A Florida high school student has abandoned her fight to validate one of her SAT scores, her attorneys say, weeks after she cried foul over test administrators' decision to investigate it over signs of possible cheating.

Kamilah Campbell, a Miami Gardens high school senior, instead is considering another retake of the SAT, her attorneys and the College Board said in a joint statement given to CNN on Thursday.

"The attention generated by Kamilah's case has been extremely stressful and emotionally traumatizing for her," the statement from Ben Crump Law, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, and the College Board reads.

"Rather than further challenging the score validity process, she is now interested in potentially retaking the SAT and continuing her path forward privately as she pursues her college goals."

Campbell and attorney Ben Crump held a news conference in early January , saying they believed test administrators were holding up one of her scores -- a 1230 -- because it was too high an improvement from her initial effort, a 900.

But the College Board, which develops the test, and the Educational Testing Service, the test administrator, pushed back. A letter that ETS sent to Campbell late last year had said her second score was being investigated primarily over concerns that her answers aligned too closely with those of other test takers.

And the College Board said a score is never flagged solely on score gains, but that a number of factors come into play , including any absence of notes and calculations in testing booklets, which students must turn in.

Campbell insisted in early January that she didn't cheat, but instead improved her score through intense preparation .

The College Board then said on January 4 that a report with initial evidence triggering the score's review -- a follow-up to the earlier ETS letter -- was on its way to Campbell.

After that, neither Crump nor Campbell publicly commented again about the case until Thursday's joint statement. Neither side has said what the report shows.

The College Board and Crump declined to further comment Thursday.

Crump and the College Board talking about improving review process

The lawyers who represented Campbell plan to keep talking with the College Board about possible changes to the way scores are reviewed and how students are kept informed, the statement reads.

When he initially took the case, Crump had alleged:

• The investigation was taking too long. Campbell scored 1230 in October; the initial ETS letter came later that year; and Campbell was coming up on deadlines to apply to Florida State University's dance program.

• The College Board " was accountable to nobody ," and can hold up students' scores with too little explanation.

In the latest statement, the attorneys and the College Board said they "plan to continue discussions concerning the SAT score review process, as well as timely resolutions for affected students."

"Specifically, the parties plan to explore the possibility of improving the score review process, clarifying the rights of test-takers whose scores are questioned, and identifying shared goals for expanding educational opportunities for all students, including students of color.

Crump is no longer pursuing claims on her behalf

"As part of this agreement, Ben Crump Law and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC will no longer be pursuing claims on behalf of Kamilah Campbell," the statement continues.

"We look forward to exploring ways to make the test security process more transparent and to addressing the broader educational needs of students," the statement adds. "The parties will be meeting again in the very near future."

From 900 to 1230

Campbell has said her high school counselor suggested taking the SAT twice -- once to get an idea of her weaknesses and a second time after further study.

She received her first score -- a 900 -- in March.

"That score was just a basic baseline for me," she told CNN in January. "So, from that point I just knew, 'OK, well, I need to work on this, I need to work on that.'"

So her mom got her a tutor, she took online classes, and she got a copy of The Princeton Review prep book.

She retook the test in October. Then ETS sent her a letter saying the score was being withheld and reviewed.

"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."

Campbell called the company, she said, and a representative told her she had a combined 1230 from the reading, writing and language, math and essay sections on her second effort. A score of 1600 is perfect.

The ETS letter said it would send her a summary about its concerns upon her request, and eventually would notify her of its final findings.

After Campbell received the letter, Crump sent ETS a January 1 letter demanding that her score be released in two weeks, and Crump and Campbell held their January 2 news conference.

A couple of days later, the College Board said the summary of the initial evidence had been sent to the student.

Before that evidence packet arrived, Campbell argued in January that her score was valid.

"I did not cheat. I studied, and I focused to achieve my dream," she said January 2. "I worked so hard and did everything I could do."


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