College Board refuses to release PMHS PSAT scores because wrong test was given by school district


The College Board has refused to release the PSAT scores of Pelham Memorial High School sophomores and juniors because the wrong test was administered at the school on Oct. 12, forcing administrators on Monday to visit classrooms to require students to sign a document attesting to whether they had spoken to anyone outside the district about the contents of the exam. Results from the test were scheduled to be released Dec. 5 and 6.

Dr. Alice Bowman, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, was one of the administrators collecting signed documents, according to one source. She told one social studies class the test given to them on Oct. 12 was the one that was supposed to be administered on Oct. 15, said the source. This year, Oct. 12 was the primary test day for the PSAT, Oct. 15 the Saturday test day and Oct. 25 the alternate test day, according to the College Board website.

The College Board, which administers the exams, is concerned that Pelham students who took the test on Oct. 12 may have spoken to students elsewhere who took the same exact test on Oct. 15.

On Dec. 8, “the district determined that the Oct. 15 version of the test had been inadvertently administered to our students,” Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ said in an email to the parents of tenth and eleventh graders sent Monday evening. It is the district’s first comment on why the scores have been withheld. “We again contacted the College Board to determine the course of action necessary to have students’ scores released in a timely manner,” Champ continued in the email. “As part of that resolution process, the College Board required the high school to administer a short survey to all students who took the exam to ensure that later test administrations were not compromised. The survey was administered to students today during class, and we are in the process of ensuring that all students are surveyed and the results are returned to the College Board.”

“Please know that I take this matter extremely seriously,” Champ said. “My cabinet and I have conducted a full and thorough investigation to determine how the wrong exam was issued. We are taking action to ensure such an error does not occur again.”

The College Board media relations department has yet to reply to an emailed request for comment.

In an email Monday morning, PMHS Principal Mark Berkowitz and Director of Counseling Eugene Farrell said, “In order for the College Board to release the results, all students who took the PSAT at PMHS are being required to complete a short survey about the October test administration.” The email did not state why the survey was needed.

One PMHS sophomore who asked not to be named described the survey: “Mr. Farrell came in and had us sign these sheets that had our legal name, school code and if we talked about (the PSAT) to anybody outside of the school, and if so, who, and like, what did you talk about. Then, we were supposed to sign that with our signature, and we signed it.”

Farrell “just told us to sign it and answer the questions,” said the source. There was no additional explanation to the students in that class as to what they were signing and why.

If a student answered yes to discussing the PSAT with a student outside Pelham, there was another question requiring the name of the student spoken to and what exactly each student said.

“I think it’s pretty clear what happened,” said junior Ben Koff. “The school gave us the test from the wrong day, and the College Board realized this and is concerned that we distributed the test questions to people who were going to take it in a few days. I understand that mistakes can happen, but, as the school won’t actually tell us anything about it, this is once again an example of school failures to communicate, and it illustrates a severe lack of ability to improve basic skills that should be expected from the school and are expected from us students.”

“The form felt excessive to me because I feel like if people actually talked about it to other districts, they would just lie and wouldn’t be honest on the form,” said another sophomore.

Junior Sebastian Fisher said, “I think that the form is reasonable given the mistake that the school/College Board made, but I don’t understand how the school or College Board could make such a large error.”