Cheating our childrenThe Scholastic Aptitude Test leak scandal is starting to get out of hand. Not long ago, a lecturer at a Gangnam language institute is under investigation for allegedly going to Thailand to obtain SAT questions and handing them over to two Korean students studying in the United States. More recently, it was revealed that test questions were taken from a high school in Gyeonggi where the SAT was being administered. The group in that case is alleged to have cut the questions out of their test papers or entered the questions into the scientific calculators they were allowed to use during the test. It is shocking that these crimes are being repeated despite the investigations by the police.
The issue of cheating on the SAT is not a new one in Korea. A foreign language high school was once shut down as an SAT examination site because of suspicions that questions were being leaked. The end result was that the test scores of hundreds of test-takers were nullified.
The recent incident raises serious concerns about the enthusiasm for education in Korean society. Parents’ desire to educate their children lies coiled beneath some extremely shameful actions and an attitude that shows a blatant disregard for honesty as long as it can help raise their child’s grades. This is even more apparent in the attitude of some of the parents who attended a presentation held by the institute where the lecturer caught for obtaining test questions from Thailand used to work. We were aghast to hear that parents said, “Get questions for my child, too,” while also commenting that they register their children for classes with the lecturer who can tell them the questions before the test. This is why private education institutes and lecturers rush to fulfill the demands of parents, no matter what it takes, making a nice profit in the process. In other words, responsibility for this round of SAT leaks lies with the students and parents who put their all into entering a prestigious university, and greedy education institutes.
The Educational Testing Service, the United States-based company that conducts the SAT, is said to be investigating the leaks in Korea. It is more than humiliating. This is a test that is conducted simultaneously around the world.
Our greatest concern is for the students who are doing honest work. It would be problematic if Korean students were cheated of the chance to enter U.S. universities because the leaks made their scores unreliable. A comprehensive solution to this issue must be found.