Friday, November 16, 2001

SAT exams taken here hostages to anthrax

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MADEIRA — Anthrax has stalled college planning for about 300 local high school students. Their unscored SAT exams are apparently locked in a New Jersey post office that's closed because of contamination.

        Many of those students might end up taking the test again.

    Students from 12 local high schools who took the SAT Oct. 13 at Madeira High School and have not received their scores may retake the test at no charge Dec. 1, the next scheduled test.
    However, since those slots may be filled, Madeira High School Principal Chris Mate recommends that students take the makeup test Dec. 15. Slots on that date are held for students whose exams are trapped in New Jersey.
    Test-takers may also request a refund of the $25 fee they paid to take the college entrance exam.
    To check on Dec. 1 test availability, call (609) 771-7600.
        SAT results have been delayed for most of the 360 juniors and seniors who took the test Oct. 13 at Madeira High School, one of 89 testing centers affected worldwide.

        Fifty Madeira students took the test, but the rest came from at least 11 other schools: Sycamore, Indian Hill, Moeller, Ursuline Academy, St. Xavier, Mount Notre Dame, Mariemont, Wyoming, Princeton, Loveland and Cincinnati Christian Hills Academy.

        “Some students could be adversely affected by it, especially kids who are taking it for the second time hoping to get higher scores. Another 40 or 50 points would open them up to another tier of scholarships,” said Chris Mate, Madeira High School principal.

        The College Board estimates that 7,800 — less than 2 percent — of the 500,000 students who took the test Oct. 13 are affected. The board is contacting those students and asking them if they want to retake the test or receive a refund.

        Lindsay Chastain, an 18-year-old Madeira High School senior, said she will likely retake the test next month. She took the SAT as a junior, then again Oct. 13, hoping to get a better score. She bought three preparation books, and because there was no school Oct. 12, spent the entire day studying for the test.

        “It's really frustrating because when you're trying to think about colleges, everything is a big stress thing anyway,” she said. “It's one more thing.”

        Some of Madeira's tests did make it to the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, N.J., which scores the exams. One of four packets sent Oct. 15 from Madeira was received and scored, Mr. Mate said.

        College Board officials think the missing exams were held up after anthrax closed two New Jersey post offices last month.

        The Trenton post office, which handles incoming mail for many College Board programs, including the SAT, remains closed. The Princeton postal facility reopened this week.

        When students sign up for the test, they may ask the College Board to provide their scores free to up to four schools. The colleges and universities picked by affected students will be contacted and asked to be flexible in the students' applications, said College Board spokesman John Hamill.

        If the delayed answer sheets from Oct. 13 eventually make it to ETS, but the students have already retaken the exam, they can send colleges the higher of their two scores, Mr. Hamill said.

        Ms. Chastain already turned in one application to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

        “I called them and talked to them about my case. They were fine with it. It's frustrating to send the lower scores, knowing I have something better, but I don't know what it is yet. Some colleges aren't going to wait for those scores.”

        She found that out when she pleaded her case with the University of California-Berkeley.

        “They weren't happy about having to wait for scores,” Ms. Chastain said, “so they said they'd just look at my first score.”

       The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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