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Original post made
on May 5, 2012
So they cancelled the SAT because of rumors of cheating or something among the students. Any idea what happens from here? Does the collegeboard refund the students the money they paid for the exam?
I bet a student who didn't study hard enough pulled the fire alarm to get out of taking the test. Cops should compare the names who signed up for the test with the list of students who actually attended.
This was a real bummer for all the students who had prepared for the tests. Is there a chance that the fire alarm was set off on purpose? How is PALY going to prevent this from happening next time?
I was one of the students present. Our room hadn't even started taking the test! It was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life.
I was a student there hoping to take my SAT II's. I have not taken the full SAT yet so if the test ends up being cancelled with no new test date I will not have enough opportunities to take all of the SATs
> I will not have enough opportunities to take all of the SATs
And you can't take it somewhere else?
Well actually, the SAT is only offered on given dates. Location is irrelevant to my problem.
To go into the details, I am an athlete which means all my SAT stuff needs to be completed by this summer in order to be recruited. I'm taking the full SAT in June which means that this was my last opportunity to take the subject tests.
For kids taking the SAT, if you need the SAT II tests & the SAT regular test, maybe you you swap out the SAT regular test for the ACT with writing, offered June 9th, (May 18th filing deadline). most schools will accept either the SAT or the ACT, my child actually did better on the ACT anyway.
Hopefully the school can reschedule the test for next week. Really unfair to the students to make them wait longer than that. Do any of the other scheduled tests have enough open spaces to handle all these extra kids at the last minute?
If they set the retake date as next week or the week after, it could be detrimental to people who are taking AP's...
Here's the phone number for the College Board's National Office (212) 713-8000.
They were very unhelpful today, and claimed that the fault lies with the school for not providing adequate security or supervision. They said they are "doing an investigation" and will let affected students know the outcome of that investigation in 7 to 14 days.
Then they offered to "transfer" the test date to a June date for a $25 fee. I told them to get this fixed Monday morning, before the late charge for a June test date applies on May 8.
@Paly Parent: Are you serious? Swap out and take the ACT instead of the SAT? They are different tests with different strategies. The ACT gives less time and includes science. To maximize scores, students study for either test, not both. This isn't just some test that students walk-in from the street and take without studying. College admissions is serious competition these days.
This is such a shame, and I agree that a student probably pulled the alarm. College Board should allow them to take it tomorrow.
Paly admin will know now to guard the fire alarms. They can easily find parents to volunteer.
@Katie - I think that many, probably the vast majority of kids, could do just fine taking the ACT on four weeks notice. Two or three practice tests and they should be good to go. It is pretty well established that prep courses only add a small margin of points, not enough to swing the outcome for the vast majority of test takers.
Your reaction provides a window into the high-stakes mindset that some families have around the college admissions process. While of course it is your right to approach it how you deem best, the impact goes beyond your own family, as your hyper-vigilance gets passed through your kids to other kids and families, who wonder "am I doing enough?" and "will I be ok in the end?" I think this kid-on-kid anxiety is a big source of the high schools stress that we are all concerned about.
I would like to know what steps are being taken to find the perpetrator. The proctor said that the alarm was pulled in the girl's locker room...there should be security footage nearby.
As an affected family of this hoax, I think it is worrying in many ways that we have not been informed by the school or anyone else as to what happened. The rumors from our students and the article in the local paper are not informing us what happened and what action our students should now be taking.
It is interesting to note that there is an email from Phil Winston to the newspaper, but not to families.
It is interesting to note that the school has not discovered from the college board how to advise students. It is also interesting to note that the college board are blaming the school.
It is also interesting to note that there is no provision for an occurrance like this. I can't believe that this is the first time that someone, somewhere hasn't done this before. Additionally, say there had been a real emergency, a real fire, what would the college board and school have done?
It comes down to the whole process being flawed. Our family is a pawn in the game. Plans for retesting will mean that we have to reschedule our family plans. No one will be found to have been responsible, at least publicly. Just like everything else in PAUSD, the parents' views are immaterial.
We will get over it, but this evening, we are numbed.
@Paly parent - gosh, you're a tough customer. As Mr. Winston said, PAUSD just provides the facility. Paly, the school, doesn't have anything to do with the SAT. They probably don't even have a list of who was signed up to take the test, or which test they were taking.
I am sure this is not the first (or even the 100th) time this has happened to the College Board, and they'll get out the playbook and do whatever they do on Monday (reschedule? shrug shoulders? don't know).
Hopefully it is just your anger speaking, but while I'm sure everyone is sorry that your kid/family is inconvenienced, your "how dare they" attitude comes off as a bit over-entitled. Blame the jerk who pulled the alarm, not Phil Winston.
@ Me Too: Have you tried taking both tests? by saying "vast majority of kids" what are your standards? Do you consider how hard some of us work towards these tests? Some of us won't take an 1800; we want our 2300. So don't just assume that kids will be fine with swapping to the ACT. You seem to think that some people are overreacting, but the way I see it, you have no right to assume it's not a big deal. You haven't gotten up an hour early for the past three months to take a prep class. And you didn't sit on the soccer field for one and a half hours wondering what in the world is going on and why you got up so early.
@student - sorry that you are angry. I haven't taken both tests, though one of my children did, without special studying for the ACT, and did about as well as on the SAT. I am sure things will work out fine for you, whichever test you take.
I do think that people sometimes over-react to things that disrupt their plans and that, upon reflection and in hindsight, they weren't as big a deal as they originally seemed. One of my own kids actually missed her SAT by showing up late. We had to scramble, move things around a bit, and he ended up taking the test at a distant location (that had space) a couple months later. Things worked out fine. Hopefully in a few months time this will just be a story that you can tell of an adversity you overcame. Good luck.
Glad someone in our community is smart enough to point out that the school site is rented as a national testing center and Paly and the district have nothing to do with SAT or ACT testing. Just like they rent to the church group on Sunday. If you want to play the blame game, figure out who is the coordinator for that national test center.
The College Board actually said the opposite to me when I called them. They said they provide the tests, and the school site is responsible for providing a secure testing environment.
Do you also say, "ATM machine"?
To Moi: According to the College Board, "SAT" is now an empty acronym, so it is correct to say "SAT test".
@Katie "This isn't just some test that students walk-in from the street and take without studying"
I did just that on both the ACT and SAT and did just fine. For Palo Alto students, more often than not they seem to be testing our test-taking abilities rather than our actual knowledge. Study multiple-choice test taking strategies and you should do relatively well on both test.
Having spent some time looking into this, I will add to my earlier comments in the hopes that I may get some reasonable replies and responses. Not sure why I am accused of entitlement, I feel I am entitled to some answers to straight forward questions from authorities I put my trust in, namely the high school my student attends which sites the SAT and the college board who makes decisions affecting my student's future college career.
It seems that it was the school who failed to provide a secure venue and were presumably receiving rent at least for this provision. If they were in error in allowing the scenario which led to the SAT being cancelled, they should be doing something to help their students sort out the mess that this has created.
If the college board made the call on cancelling the test due to the fact that some of the students had already seen the prompt for the essay then they must have alternative arrangements for these students who through no fault of their own were unable to sit this exam.
At this stage in the school year, it is getting short on time for this year's juniors who will be next year's seniors to resit SATs, SAT Is and IIs to enable them to be used for college applications. To say that they should be able to depend on results for earlier exams when they have not even covered the required material for the exams, seems poor judgment if nothing else.
I don't think I am over-reacting, in fact I think I am very calm. I just wish some official would take charge in this affair and give some advice and options as well as making alternative schedule of yesterday's examination.
From what I have heard the students who had seen the prompt, promptly passed it around - to no objection for those receiving the "inside info". Seems to me the zero tolerance could be enforced. To blame the high school is silly. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if the students know who pulled the alarm.
@Paly Parent - I hope and expect you'll get the guidance you are looking for on Monday through whatever channels the College Board uses. Probably you've already seen the CB page on make-up testing here:
"If your center is unable to open on test day or if a misadministration or irregularity occurs, a makeup test may be scheduled, and you will be notified by the SAT Program..." Web Link.
Your posts do come across as looking for someone to blame (the school, the college board, etc.) who is somehow supposed to make it up to you. To me it sounds more like a jerk pulled a fire alarm, which is pretty hard to prevent, and you along with a lot of others were inconvenienced. I'm sure your child and family have the resiliency to overcome this minor adversity with grace and good humor.
Palo Alto High School gets paid and makes a lot of money for running the SAT tests. It is on them to make good.
Again- for the dense: the site is RENTED. The person who takes money from the College Board and rents Paly as a NATIONAL testing center, where anyone, not just PA kids can test, is the person responsible for a secure venue. If they chose to rent an empty warehouse, would you blame the landlord for a security issue or the person running the event? in no way is it on Paly to make good. They have NOTHING to do with what happened other than that they were the box it happened in.
There is nothing humorous about this situation. The selfish choice of one unprepared student impacted 799 other students and their families.
It should be very easy to identify this person, with fingerprint evidence and security camera footage. Most students were sitting in the testing rooms at the time with proctors...there were only a few who were not accounted for.
Okay, so say they lift fingerprints from the alarm, assuming there are any to be lifted. Now the police can compare them,.... to what? I am willing to bet that most of the kids in Paly have never been fingerprinted by the police. I would think that there is only a VERY slim chance that fingerprints could be useful in locating a suspect, not enough chance to make it worth the effort.
Security camera footage would be more interesting, to be sure. But are there cameras? If so, why don't they cover the bike cages where MANY crimes are commited in a small space and a camera is an obvious solution? Oh, wait, we would not want to threaten the privacy rights of the criminals by putting cemeras in public places, would we?
Calm down, retake the test, there are many many colleges out there. There will be one that is a good fit for your child. Not every one can have a Gucci bag, not everyone can go to Stanford.
The schools are staffed with kind, motivated intelligent professionals, at the top of their game, who are doing their very best to help your kids. Can they think of everything? No they cannot. Are they perfect? No they are not, not at all. But I acknowledge that I am not either. Give everyone a couple more days, and I am sure you will get the answer to your questions about this event.
I realize I sound like a big hippy: I would much rather my children achieve the life skills of enjoying their life and their advantages, doing their best, and moving on from circumstances that are beyond their control, rather than a high SAT score.
Yes they should put energy into achievement, but they should also learn to adjust flexibly and creatively to situations. This seems to be an issue in the reaction to this event.
Could just as easily been an earthquake or some other issue . . . deal with it and move on.
"Could just as easily been an earthquake or some other issue . . . deal with it and move on."
How unfeeling, uncaring, uncompassionate can you be? These parents and kids worked and planned and prepared for this test, set their sites on it, and had the rug pulled out from under them. They are in limbo, and precious time is slipping by, time needed to get these kids into the colleges of their choice, and they have no idea where to turn next. As stated above, it is not as easy as "just find another testing site". They don't know if the tests will be re-attempted or even if they will get refunds. What do you suggest, cool their heels and re-test next year? That alarm has rudely messed with many of the lives of our best and brightest kids, not to mention their parents.
What happens next? No one knows. Limbo, at a time when they need to move quickly and decisively towards their goals they are frustratingly in limbo. The school and the test administrators, who should step to the fore and present a plan to go forward are frustratingly silent. We see finger-pointing all over indicating who should act next, but every entity pointed to is also pointing elsewhere, and no one is stepping up to the plate. Apparently there was no plan for this sort of obvious potential problem, and the holders of the controls sit dumbly in stupefied confusion.
And you say "move on". To where? That advise is a meaningless dismissal of their hardship. It does not affect you, so you don't care. If that is the case, it would be better and less insulting if you were to simply keep your silence.
I had two children who were there, and missed out on this test. This is really a shame for the seniors who are dealing with NCAA qualifier and recruitment situations... So sad, it's truly a shame. I think it's wrong to tell students and families how they should feel about their dreams, goals or ambitions being altered by what some, may call a "small thing." Yes, it may be somewhat small to my junior, but it's huge to my senior. We are taking it in stride, but it's still too bad and a shame. Now we must scramble to make alternative solutions and hope scores will be available in time for the NCAA.
I don't need opinions from others, I'm just sharing the fact that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to student athletes.
Yes, the ACT test is different, yet it is accepted by colleges and the result are released much faster than the SATs. I will now have to pay late fees to sign my child up for the June ACT and HOPE that the results come back by the end of June. The NCAA is a whole other bag of worms that many folks do not understand, and their rules are much tighter than in years past, and will be even stricter for the class of 2013 and beyond.
In any event... I just wanted to say that we all need to respect each others situations and feelings on this topic, especially the students who were involved. It's their life and their dreams and goals. I really hope the College Board reschedules the testing for this Month....
Best wishes to the students, to my children and to the families who experienced anxiety and are trying to figure out what to do now.
Let's all please be KIND.
I am curious how the scoring will take place if a re-test at Paly occurs on a date when other students nationwide are not also testing. With the essays in particular (which are scored on a curve, I believe), will the students re-taking the exam at Paly be compared only to one another? That would be a dicey proposition, since the pool taking the test at Paly would no doubt be more advanced than a more general pool nationwide. I am curious how College Board will answer that question, and I hope Paly officials will ask about it.
"since the pool taking the test at Paly would no doubt be more advanced than a more general pool nationwide"
So we would like to believe.
However, you raise an interesting point, the tests should be scored against the nataional averages, not the local average.
It is exceedingly frustrating that the alarm was pulled, and even more frustrating that there appears to be no cintingency plan for that event. If this was a senior prom that got interrupted, there would (in the long run) be no really meaningful consequences, and it would be easy to blow it off and laugh about it later. But in many cases this is a potentially life-changing event that is very unfair to those affected. It is far more than just a prank due to its real repercussions on real lives. It is not funny, it is not minor, and I would hate to be the one who pulled that alarm.
My child also was affected test cancellation. I spoke to College Board. They will reschedule the test - it will be held before June 2nd (next SAT test date) on a Saturday. They will give students an option of taking the test at a later date (within an year) or on the 'remake' date. College board will inform students via email. Emails will be sent to accounts registered with College Board.
another paloaltan's post is good news. How about now we raise a group of parent/vollunteers to stand guard at all the fire alarms to prevent another, copycat, event? Just get a list of names and alarm locations, and have the vollunteers bring a camp chair, some water, and an iPad or book and go relax at their designated post while the test is underway. Best to arrive at those posts a little early. You could even do shifts, to allow potty breaks, if there are enough vollunteers.
There are hundreds of fire alarm stations on the Paly campus. Especially when you consider that the alarms are not only on the exterior, but on the interior of many, if not all, of the buildings as well.
The situation stinks. But to expect to have a security guard within eye sight of every fire alarm on campus is a bit daunting don't you think?
Not a security guard, a parent vollunteer.
The number does seem daunting, perhaps there are ways to reduce the number of alarms that need to be watched by eliminating parts of the campus that are off-limits during the test.
Leaving yourself wide open to a repeat event without even trying to prevent it would seem to be downright stupid.
@Paly Parent = Entitled
And I'm a Palo Alto parent whose child was affected by the snafu on Saturday.
It's amazing how pushy, demanding, blame-driven, and entitled Palo Alto parents have become. Entitled is the perfect word to describe @ Paly Parent and so many others.
Is it "entitlement" when you expect to get what you pay for? "How RUDE! These unreasonable parents paid for these tests and now that actually want them administered! This year even! You's think they actually want their kids to go to college or something."
Entitlement my eye. They prepared for these tests, counted down the days, paid their fees, showed up on time, and "Oops, April fools, no tests." They have a right to be upset.
Maybe you don't really care if your kids get into a good college, but there are plenty of parents who DO care that much about their kids and their future, who put a lot of work and planning into it, who are concerned about tight scheduals for applications. How dare you denigrate them for their concern for their kids?
Why does the last sentence of the article say that the fire department will not do any further investigating? Did they catch the person who caused this false alarm, or do they not care?
Still shocked by some of these responses.
Yes, it seems we will get an opportunity to resit the test. I am just still a little put out by the lack of understanding by the oversight, the blame game between the two officialdoms and the lack of foresight that something like this should be unprepared for.
Other than that, I do feel entitled to my child getting the education and the treatment that we expect from an educational establishment and the governing body for third level education.
I am not a pushy parent, a helicoper parent or a tiger parent. I just expect some good manners, some information when things go wrong and some civility when a polite complaint is made over the way problems are dealt with. Good manners would be a good way to start.
Is that too much to expect?
I am curious if the false alarm was triggered by construction.
Were they working at Paly that day? If so, maybe it wasn't a student.
@Paly Parent - I can't quite tell if you are being sarcastic or not. It took the College Board all the way till Monday to work out the re-testing plan for a blown test on Saturday - that's seems about right to me. I imagine they had 100s if not 1000s of locations to administer that day, and I'm sure there are problems with a few every time, don't you think?
Who do you think was rude to you? You seemed to want the school administration to do something, but it was not their problem and it was, after all, the weekend. I suppose Phil Winston could have come in from whatever he was doing with his family this weekend, established a command center, and personally sent out updates to the Paly community (most of whom had nothing to do with this test of course) on what he did or didn't find out, both about the rescheduling - aside from "wait till Monday" - and the search for the culprit, coordinating fire, police, and private investigation services in the ensuing manhunt. Phew - go Phil! But I don't think anyone would have been any better off for the effort. Sometimes we need to be a little patient, a helpful lesson for our offspring as well.
So I'm not sure why you are "put out," beyond being frustrated at the unfortunate circumstances, like the car breaking down on a family trip. It's a bummer, but we adjust our schedule and move ahead, hopefully with good humor.
Maybe I am missing something about your specific experience, in terms of people treating you inappropriately. If so, I'm sorry. But it sounds like those who enjoyed their unexpected free day, didn't worry, and waited till Monday, got the best outcome under the circumstances. Maybe there's a lesson there for all of us.
I don't appreciate being called elitist by those who do not know me.
I am sorry if you don't agree with me, but if Phil Winston was able to email the newspaper, then he or his staff must have been available at Paly on a Saturday. I don't necessarily expect Mr. Winston to have been available except that the article suggests he was.
Perhaps I am wrong, but if a Saturday is the chosen day for the college board to administer an examination then presumably for them it is a working day and they have staff available. If Paly has been rented out then I assume that there is someone from Paly available on site for any potential problems even if it is a weekend.
Don't get me wrong, but I just expected some courtesy which I didn't get. As a parent I have not been given a courteous response on this forum. I might add that this system is new to me and I feel that I am completely out of my depth and as far as getting an explanation for the cancellation of an important examination I am left drowning.
If nothing else, knowing nothing until after I discovered my child had gone off with friends on their "unexpected free day" until such time as being expected home, certainly added to my frustration about what happened, but then again, that is our family problem and no one elses which is why I chose not to mention it before.
@Paly Parent - sorry that you had a bad day. Maybe it is all a little new to you, I don't know. I didn't call you "elitist" (maybe someone else did), but you have been calling out others (the CB, Winston, PAUSD, other posters) as rude, under-performing, un-caring, etc. That seems harsh under the circumstances - a kid pulled a fire alarm and the rest was just by the book.
Anyway, I hope you can forgive all of our shortcomings and that you and your family eventually can laugh about the whole thing. Good ,luck!
There is nothing to laugh about in this situation.
Instead of taking two one-hour SAT Subject Tests, my student spent an hour sitting on the field while officials fumbled around trying to figure out how to handle the situation, and then another hour dealing with the College Board trying to figure out options for taking the tests on another day. This will, of course, also use up another Saturday morning for a kid who is already testing multiple times this spring.
It is ridiculous that the College Board has apparently informed the newspaper that they are offering multiple solutions, and yet as of this morning, they have still not responded back to my affected student's request for help.
I find that keeping my sense of humor about life's mishaps makes it easier for everybody, and I sometimes get a better end result. Nobody has gotten killed here or physically injured, right? Also humor and patience helps cut the stress, which our kids (and we adults!) have plenty of. But different people deal with things in different ways - so if seething is your way to cope, so be it. I just hope you don't amp up the stress for your kid. Good luck!
"Also humor and patience helps cut the stress, "
You remind me of Monty Python:
"I've cut off your arm!"
"It's just a flesh wound,..."
Patience and humor can indeed relieve stress, but there are times when that remedy does not work. If you want me to laugh about your damaging the hope my kid has for going to college because of your own ineptness, then you may be disappointed. There are times to put patience and humor aside and go for the throat of the buffoon that is blocking your way.
@JustMe - unfortunately, it seems like some parents think that time is all the time, and the buffoon, as you put it, is anyone in the way.
In this case it seems like there was an unfortunate prank pulled, and everyone did their jobs, but it took a little time to sort things out. If that's a "go for the throat" situation, then heaven help us all in Palo Alto.
Enough Already! Tearing each other apart online or in person is not helping anything, except maybe allowing you to blow off steam and be rude to each other. Enough's enough. What's done is done. My family was deeply affected too, yet... we're dealing with it.
Remember, our children.. our students read these posts! Set an example on how to deal with adverse and difficult situations in a heathly manner, and move on. Enough's enough.
Good news! Per a just released College Board email:
The Test has been rescheduled to May 19, 2012 and will be reported as May 5, 2012 testing. If this date does not work for your student, then a FREE transfer date will offered by calling Customer Service.
Bad news for CCS Semi-Final Student Athlete participants. Oy vay..
Have a good day. Kindness is a virtue.
Same day as the CCS swimming finals. All of the leagues scheduled their championship meets to fall on the Friday before the test, no conflict that way. Now this.
Bummer for those kids and families!
Yes, indeed. This is yet another unfortunate issue that has truly hit home for us as well... Completely sad and unnecessarily frustrating. :(
Good news for the non-CCS students. I wish them the very best! Now, I just have to figure out a solution for my children who are scheduled to compete and represent Paly with Pride, along with many, many other student athletes and college hopefuls who will be competing in CCS Trials.
The Saturday following the prior test would have been ideal for all involved. The sooner the better.
Murphy's Law. Best wishes to the other students and families.
"Same day as the CCS swimming finals."
Nope. CCS swimming finals are this weekend.
In reading these comments, one suggestion was casually mentioned that seems like a great solution. Rent an open warehouse space for these test sites. Someplace with professional security, one big open room so everyone has the same proctors and there is no danger of fire alarms being pulled. Also, no involvement with the school system, hence no blame game that affects their administrators.
When my kid took the SAT, the proctor was ridiculous. Interrupted them, could not keep the time clock correctly, talked on her cell phone. Outrageous! Really nothing to do about it though. Affected the thirty kids in that Gunn High portable room adversely. At least this blew it equally for all.
Believe me, I am not making light of it, but it will get fixed. And when your student gets into that college, there will be situations like this that they will deal with on their own (because they are over 18). So, set an example for them about how to work through a problem that was not caused by them, that is SO unfair, and then move on.
It could have been worse -
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