California College Admits to SAT-Score Inflation 

Claremont McKenna College announced Monday that one of its senior administrators has submitted false SAT score data to college guides for the past six years.

Claremont McKenna College announced Monday that one of its senior administrators has submitted false SAT score data to college guides for the past six years, the New York Times reported. The official has been fired and college rankings publishers have been notified, the college said.

Sources told the New York Times that the administrator was Richard C. Vos, former vice president and dean of admissions.

US News & World Report, Princeton Review and other publications use data like the median SAT scores of admitted freshmen to help rank colleges.

According to the New York Times:

Claremont McKenna, a liberal arts school with about 1,200 students and a strong focus on political science and economics, is part of the Claremont colleges cluster east of Los Angeles. Long considered a good school, in the last generation it has moved into the elite ranks — at least as measured by the most-popular ratings.

The college said the administrator generally inflated Claremont McKenna’s math and critical reading scores by an average of 10-20 points each, according to the New York Times. For example, for the class that started in September 2010, the combined median score of 1,400 was reported as 1,410.

While the exaggeration was small, it may have been enough to bump the college out of an otherwise tied position on the US News & World Report annual college ranking, the Los Angeles Times reported. In the most recent college guide, Claremont McKenna is ranked ninth-best national liberal arts college, up from 11th the year before.

"As an institution of higher education with a deep and consistent commitment to the integrity of all our academic activities, and particularly our reporting of institutional data, we take this situation very seriously," President Pamela B. Gann wrote in a memo distributed at the college on Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Test scores and class rankings provided by colleges aren't verified by outside sources, Bob Schaeffer, a spokesman for advocacy group FairTest, told Bloomberg News. "The perception is a higher ranking leads to both more applicants and a better group of applicants," Schaeffer told Bloomberg News. "This is all part of the college admissions arms race, and yet another example of the perversion of the college admissions process."

“There’s no question that rankings have had a negative effect on colleges, as they drive many schools to focus on statistics around perceived status,” Jieun Choe, executive director of college prep and K-12 programs at exam-preparation company Kaplan Test Prep, said in a statement. “The reality is that there are a number of ways schools have been able to influence their rankings-related statistics – whether it’s going SAT-optional to boost their SAT scores, or getting rid of an early admissions policy to increase applicant volume.”

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