Lost And Found: Kaplan Test Dilemma

After a month-long search, the junior class’ mock SAT/ACT answer sheets have been found.

The tests were administered through Kaplan Test Prep on Nov. 15 and were supposed to be shipped to the company’s center of operations in New York. However, after the Kaplan test proctor collected the test materials, he mistakenly attached a label not to Kaplan home offices, but to an unknown destination.

Principal Billie-Jean Bensen received a call on Jan. 3, a snow day for students, saying the box of answer sheets had turned up at an Iowa ACT warehouse. She then called Kaplan, who worked with the warehouse to get the box shipped back to the east coast.

Before the tests had been found, Kaplan dropped the costs for conducting the mock SAT/ACT and made an offer to give RHS two free SAT/ACT prep sessions, which put together can hold 50 students. As far as Bensen knows, that offer still stands, but the school has not decided whether to accept it yet.

“To me that’s not helpful to us. We had close to 350 students taking all sections [of the test], but that’s what they have offered,” Bensen said. “They wanted very quickly for us to say that we were OK with them a�� but this is certainly an opportunity for us to look at what else is out there.” A decision about RHSa�� status with Kaplan will be made in February, according to Bensen.

In an effort to explain the situation, Kaplan program manager Tina Craun also released a statement to the RHS students, staff and parents affected by the tests.

“I cannot express to you how deeply upset Kaplan is that this situation has occurred,” Craun said. “We know first-hand how stressful the standardized testing process can be for students, especially as the primary goal of our programs is to alleviate test day stress.”

Lilian Cerdeira, parent of two RHS students, explained at a Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) meeting that she had used Kaplan for her oldest son’s SAT prep courses last year.

“I thought to myself, you know, the school has this relationship with Kaplan, they’ve been endorsing Kaplan, let’s sign him up,” Cerdeira said. “They canceled I don’t know how many sessions. a�� We had to keep rearranging his schedule and it was just a mess.”

When she and her son made it to some sessions, Cerdeira said, the instructors’ attendance was spotty, including times where they would show up 25 minutes late, or did not show up at all. Cerdeira contacted Craun, who said Kaplan was aware of the situation and would provide make-up sessions. But according to Cerdeira, she and her son got nothing.

“So here’s my youngest son, and we’re at the point of deciding whether I’m going to sign him up for an SAT or ACT prep course. We’re waiting on these results anxiously,” Cerdeira said. “My experience with Kaplan has not been very good.”

Another aspect up for debate about the Mock SAT/ACT is the way RHS administers the tests. For the past couple of years, a school day in November is put aside for juniors to take the tests in the cafeteria, one in the morning and one after lunch.

“My experience [with the test] was rushed and confusing. I hated going back to class in the middle,” junior Zora Williams said. “I didn’t feel like I had the proper resources to prepare for the ACT or the written portion of the SAT. Nonetheless, I still tried my best.”

The atmosphere of the cafeteria was often disrupting to test-taking students, according to junior Tarinee Chanatup. Students were often sneezing and coughing during the duration of test. In a room of 350 students, this can make it hard to concentrate.

“We’ll continue to do something. We probably won’t do it that way, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to mock practices in some way, shape or form,” Bensen said. “We know how kids felt, that was too long of a day.”