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Claremont McKenna College released the official SAT Corrected Figures from 2004 to 2011 to the Forum and other news organizations. The previous data, which were manipulated by a senior official at the college’s Office of Admission, reveal a clear inflation of the median and mean critical reading and math scores.

The degree to which scores were doctored varied by year. SAT data obtained from the college’s “factbooks,” assembled yearly by the Office of Institutional Research, show the difference in reported and actual scores. In 2009, for example, the median critical reading score was 680 while the factbook shows a median of 700 for that year. The scores, which are calculated by ranges (e.g., 650-690 or 700-740), were exaggerated to bump up individual student scores to the next highest bracket.

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The corrected data also shows evidence of effectively hiding students who scored lowest on the exam. Between 2004 and 2011, eight students had scored below 500 on verbal/critical reading, and only one was reported.

Ranked the ninth-best liberal arts college in the country by U.S. News and World Report, Claremont McKenna is among the most selective liberal arts institutions in the country. Though the changes to the data were slight, the corrected data may affect the college’s ranking.

Rob Franek, author of The Best 376 Colleges and Senior Vice President of Publishing at the Princeton Review, spoke with the Forum and doesn’t expect the misreported SAT scores to affect CMC’s rankings in the publication.

Rankings in the Princeton Review are based entirely on student reviews, said Franek, and they are not likely to change because of the newly corrected SAT scores. More likely, Franek believes this incident will force institutions of higher education to ask, “Why is there such a frenzy around testing?”

The conversation, says Franek, will be less about the story surrounding Claremont McKenna and more about “the story around the increased attention to the SAT and ACT, how important it is to the admissions process, and how important it is to report those numbers honestly. I think that’s where the discussion is going to go.”

On NPR’s All Things Considered, Robert Morse, director of data research for U.S. News and World Report, indicated that the dip in scores is likely to have only a small effect on the ranking. “It’s certainly not going to drop the school to twentieth place,” said Morse, “but I guess there’s some chance that it could drop out of the top ten.”

President Pamela Gann first announced the discovery of falsely reported data on Monday morning in an email message. Richard C. Vos, former Vice President & Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, has since resigned. Georgette DeVeres, a longtime employee of the college and member of President Gann’s senior staff, was appointed interim head of admissions yesterday afternoon.

The revelation of the fudged SAT scores has triggered dialogue amongst Claremont McKenna students. Some believe the error at the Office of Admissions is symptomatic of an obsession with college rankings, and others are calling for more transparency in the administration’s handling of the incident. Still others assert that the recent news is in no way a reflection on the college culture, students, or faculty.

The Forum has been tracking student reactions and will continue to do so as the story progresses.

12 COMMENTS

    • btw forgot to mention there’s also some graphs and charts. and you can see PDFs of the documents there too. its really interesting

  1. How old is Jack Stark these days? Is he in good health? Perhaps he could reemerge and right the college

  2. GIve credit where credit is due. The Port Side did all of the heavy lifting on this one. Even the New York Times says so. http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/?scp=1-spot&sq=the+choice&st=cse

    Don’t be petty. Give them credit for a job well done. They aren’t Charles Johnson. You can be collegial about giving them their due credit in their investigative journalism.

    • Agree 100%. Is the Forum threatened by the Port Side or something? It shouldn’t be a rivalry. If anything, the Port Side’s great coverage of basically all important events on this campus should be a reason for the Forum to raise its own bar.. and then everyone will benefit..

      • CMC released the data to the Forum. Maybe if you read the first few sentences you would have known that…

        Don’t try to make something out of nothing

        • Yeah but what I’m trying to say is that the Port Side found it of their own accord the day before and is probably the reason the administration publicized it to the Forum and other publications. So there should be credit where credit is due, no matter what publication you support.

        • I agree that as readers we should give credit to the Portside for uncovering that information first, but the Forum is definitely under no obligation to do so because they did not get their information from the Portside. As you said, it is probable that the Portside was the reason that the administration shared the information, but it is also probable that they were planning to all along. 

        • this bickering between anonymous portside writers and everyone else is very annoying. it would be nice if the forum would get rid of anonymous commenters or at least allowed a better system of downvoting comments that are a waste of time to read

  3. What if the only reason why the SAT scores were inflated was so we could have a new dean without having to pay severence? 

  4. For the record, I gave full credit to The Claremont Port Side repeatedly and will be making a $500 to the magazine as soon as I get home to my checkbook. Does anyone know to whom I make it out? I encourage you all to do the same. It’s only through an honest, impartial, outside investigation of the data (which the Port Side provides in abundance) that we will fully understand what happened here. The Port Side  work is in keeping with the finest tradition of the college. Hats off and shame on the Forum for stealing their successes. I only wish my own former newspaper, The Claremont Independent, was as up on it as they have been and continue to be. As for being a “dick,” well, I think it’s pathetic that people still feel the need to go after me personally, rather than dealing with my arguments. But hey, maybe that’s because the college has been admitting a bunch of people who aren’t smart enough to handle tough arguments? We will never know…

  5. I would give credit to any publication that points out that the cheating went on for more than the stated six years…

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