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March 2019 College Admissions Scandal: It's Potential Impact on Students and What To Do About It

Updated: Feb 5

In March 2019, a college entrance bribery scandal unfolded whereby Federal prosecutors alleged a college-admission scheme that included:

  • Bribing exam administrators to facilitate cheating on College Entrance Exams

  • Falsifying students profiles to portray them as elite recruited athletes and the bribing coaches in order to facilitate college admissions

In the first part of the scandal, there was reported falsification of a student’s disability and the need for related accommodations. This was done so that the student would test in a private setting, and thus the proctor could be bribed to falsify answers or someone could be hired to take the test in place of the student.

It is my fear that, as a result of the recent scandal, it could become increasingly difficult to obtain test accommodations for PSAT/SAT/AP/ACT/ISEE (Independent High School Entrance Exams) for those students that actually need them.

The Continued Need For A “Level Playing Field”

Consistent with the ADA (American Disabilities Act) guidelines, it is deemed critical that students with disabilities be allowed to be on a “level playing field” relative to their peers, given the significant impact of their impairment on the major life activity of academic functioning when they must work under time constraints.

What To Do Now

It is my experience that many “standardized-test specific” accommodations are typically are not included in a student’s IEP/Section 504 Plan. It is my opinion that these necessary accommodations be identified and added to student’s IEP’s or Section 504 Plans. Plans should be modified as early as possible, ideally before entering 9th grade, to include these types of test accommodations. It is therefore increasingly important that students that need accommodations have their accommodations for standardized testing, added to their IEP’s or Section 504 plans.


If a student currently has the accommodation for extended time on their IEP or Section 504, due to, let’s say, ADHD, the student should more than likely should have the accommodation for “breaks as needed” and/or “multiple day testing for the College Entrance Exams.” This type of accommodation historically is rarely included on an IEP/Section 504 Plan, as most in-school exams are not as long in duration and are not as “high stakes” as the College Entrance Exams.


While there are current rules around what types of substantiation is required and the time frame in which the psychologist/psychiatrist evaluations be completed, these may become more stringent in the future. It is imperative that all the accommodations being requested of College Board and ACT be well substantiated.

Michele Sass, of M. Sass Consulting, LLC, is an Educational Testing Accommodations Advocate, whose role is to take the stress out of the PSAT/SAT/ACT/AP/ISEE accommodations request process and be sure that all the “test-specific” accommodations are identified and substantiated properly, so that your child is empowered to test on an “Level Playing Field”. She can be reached at: and her website can be found at

Empowering Students To Perform On A "Level Playing Field"

Michele Sass, and any advocate, employee or independent contractor, working with M. Sass Consulting, LLC, is not a practicing attorney and does not provide legal advice or legal services.  Furthermore, M. Sass Consulting, LLC or anyone working with or representing M. Sass Consulting, LLC cannot, and does not, guarantee any specific outcome.  


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