Education

Student accused of cheating on her SAT drops legal battle, may just take test again

Kamilah Campbell, a high school senior at Dr. Michael Krop High who has been accused by SAT officials of cheating because her scores jumped beyond the norm, tells her side regarding the allegation of cheating during a press conference by her attorneys to release her SAT scores after her press conference at Miami News Net studios in Miami, Florida on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019.
Kamilah Campbell, a high school senior at Dr. Michael Krop High who has been accused by SAT officials of cheating because her scores jumped beyond the norm, tells her side regarding the allegation of cheating during a press conference by her attorneys to release her SAT scores after her press conference at Miami News Net studios in Miami, Florida on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. cjuste@miamiherald.com

Kamilah Campbell, the Miami Gardens high school senior who boosted her SAT score by 330 points in October and had to fight to prove that she’d done so legitimately, is giving up her public battle with administrators.

She’s not going to fight to validate her improved SAT performance anymore. She’s considering taking the SAT again instead, she told CNN through her attorneys on Thursday.

Her attorneys and the College Board released a statement to CNN: “The attention generated by Kamilah’s case has been extremely stressful and emotionally traumatizing for her,” read the statement by attorneys at Ben Crump Law and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, and the College Board.

Campbell, 18, bumped her 900 score on the SAT in March to a 1230 in October on her second try. A 1600 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (or more commonly called SAT) is considered a perfect score. The SAT tests high school students on their writing and mathematical skills and is required to pursue most higher education degrees.

But a few weeks after taking the test again, the Educational Testing Service, which administers the SAT, contacted Campbell by letter and said her second score was being investigated. The administrators were concerned that her answers on the SAT on “one or more sections of the test” were too similar, or in “substantial agreement,” to those of other students who took the same test.

Campbell, a senior at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High in north Miami-Dade County, aspired to attend Florida State University and pursue dance. She still does.

The March 2018 score of 900, just above average, wasn’t high enough to distinguish a student before college boards. So she says she buckled down before that October redo.

She told the Herald in January that her mom bought her “a prep book the size of a phone book.” She studied before, during, and after school — and during breaks at a Miami Gardens dance studio where she worked and studied, she said.

06SATCONTROVERSY.JPG
A supporter of Kamilah Campbell, a high school senior at Michael Krop High who has been accused by SAT officials of cheating because her scores jumped beyond the norm, wears a button stating her support for Campbell during her press conference at Miami News Net studios in Miami, Florida on Jan. 2, 2019. Carl Juste cjuste@miamiherald.com

So Campbell was crushed when, a few weeks after taking the SAT in October and improving her score, her integrity was called into question when she received the letter from the Educational Testing Service.

The insult was compounded, she said, when the College Board, which develops the college readiness SAT, told her that her test was under review because the 330-point jump so soon after the first attempt suggested she likely had “prior knowledge” of the test, the Herald reported in January.

According to Zachary Goldberg, a spokesman for The College Board, “student scores are never placed under review or canceled simply because of score gains. Score reviews are triggered by a range of factors that cast doubt on the validity of a score. We follow the same process for reviewing scores for all students: race, ethnicity, or any other personal attributes have no role in this process,” he said in an email to the Miami Herald.

The College Board looks at a number of details on the SAT test materials that are handed in by the students after they take the readiness exam. These can include what notes, if any, are written by the test taker or calculations on the mathematical portions in testing booklets — the familiar “show your work” directive instructors and administrators request or require on such tests.

Crump, her attorney, an FSU alumnus who represented Trayvon Martin’s family, took up Campbell’s cause.

Aside from the statement they released to CNN Thursday, the two haven’t elaborated.

Though the law firms are no longer pursuing claims on behalf of Campbell, the statement added that there was the hope that the test security process and its evaluation could become more “transparent” and that the doors haven’t been closed.

“The parties will be meeting again in the very near future.”

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.


  Comments