EXCLUSIVE: High school senior denied SAT score due to ID mix-up

It’s a case of mistaken identity that could cost a high school senior his future.

On May 5, Mordy Goldstein took his SAT reasoning test, which is required by many universities for college admissions, and began waiting for his score to arrive. But Goldstein never received a score and was instead told by the College Board and ETS, the organizations responsible for designing and administering the SAT, that his score would be cancelled because he used his Jewish name to register in advance for the exam, instead of Marc Goldstein, the name that appears on the identification he showed to be admitted to the SAT test site and the name he signed on his test.

Goldstein’s family contacted Assemblymember Rhoda Jacobs’ office in early August. Her staff spent weeks speaking with the ETS and College Board, providing the organizations with evidence to substantiate Goldstein’s identity, including a letter from the headmaster of his school and a photo from his yearbook in which he is identified by his Jewish name.

According the Jacobs, the College Board and ETS refused to count his scores, contending that according to its policy, the name on the student’s official identification must match exactly with his or her SAT answer sheets and admission tickets.

“While I understand the College Board/ETS’ desire to reduce cheating by implementing such strict security policies, the onus falls on the testing center, and by extension, the College Board/ETS, for allowing Mr. Goldstein to take the exam when such a policy exists,” Jacobs contended.  “Mordy Goldstein sat through the test expecting to get a grade, and should not be penalized if his proctor was not thorough enough in checking his identification and alerting him to this policy.

“Furthermore, had Mr. Goldstein been denied admission to the test on May 5, he would have been able to register for another SAT exam in time for college admissions,” she went on. “Unfortunately, at this point, he may not have time to re-take the test before college applications are due. It is truly a shame to jeopardize a bright young man’s future over a technical error.”

It’s an error, Jacobs added, that is not surprising given Goldstein’s background. Jacobs pointed out that in the Orthodox Jewish Community in which Goldstein grew up in, Jewish and legal names are frequently interchangeable.

The assemblymember noted that according to the College Board/ETS’s website, nearly three million students in more than 170 countries take the SATs each year, which should lead them to “demonstrate cultural sensitivity” towards students such as Goldstein.

“This is not just about one student in the Orthodox Jewish community– this is about all students in all communities,” Jacobs said. “This is about ensuring that the College Board and ETS—both of which are privately run organizations with minimal to no oversight—do not discourage young learners through one-size-fits-all regulations that do not account for the diversity of test-takers.”

The College Board declined to discuss Goldstein’s case specifically. Jason Baran, manager of external relations for ETS, told this paper, “Due to privacy laws, the College Board and ETS are unable to discuss the details of any test irregularity case. However, each student who registers for the SAT is responsible for following all ID requirements and policies, including ensuring that the name used to register for the SAT matches exactly the name on the ID document(s) he or she presents at the test center on test day.

“Unfortunately, a few students each year fail to follow these guidelines, resulting in their scores being withheld or cancelled,” he went on. “While this is an unfortunate situation for the test-takers who failed to follow the guidelines, these policies are necessary to ensure the validity of the SAT scores reported to colleges and universities.”

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