Spam as art: The Festrunk Brothers resurface in my comments file

The Festrunk Brothers (reincarnated) comment on a month-old Chain Gang Blog post about an offer, long expired. This is exactly what my commenter said:

SNL’s Festrunk Brothers — Two Wild and Crazy Guys

“What i don’t realize is actually how you’re no longer really much more well-liked than you may be right now. You are so intelligent. You know thus significantly when it comes to this matter, made me in my view believe it from so many various angles. Its like men and women are not involved until it is something to do with Woman gaga! Your individual stuffs excellent. Always maintain it up!”


Now, that’s spam you can be proud of, you wild and crazy guys!

SAT cheating fueled by lack of security and few consequences

New York prosecutors are expanding their probe after an Emory University student was charged with using fake IDs (one of them for a girl) to take tests for B- students who thought a 2,100+ SAT score on their transcripts was worth a couple of grand. (Editorial note: Those kids have WAY too much money.)  Click here to read the previous coverage.

Some people think the problem is systemic. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get into top-ranked schools, and the pressures to get high test scores have created a billion-dollar test prep industry and crime stories like this one.

The New York Times has taken a look at some of the problems inherent in the test-taking system, notably a lack of security at testing centers and a lack of consequences for wrongdoers. The Educational Testing Service, which administers the SAT, cites confidentiality rules to explain why it doesn’t notify anyone that cheating has occurred.  One thing that leapt out at me when I read the story: The damning evidence in the Great Neck case was the SAT essay, since the handwriting was identical in all six cases of cheating.

This suggests another way to game the system. The ACT, the SAT’s competitor, is writing-optional. Many colleges don’t require the essay, but many–if not the vast majority–of those that do require only one test with an essay, just to have one on file. A student can take the test and write the essay. Then they can have someone else take the test without the essay. In many cases, the college will either “superscore” the two tests, or simply take the best test day score.  The solution is simple: Either require an essay with all ACT tests, or — here’s an idea — go test-optional. (See for details.)

Here’s the crux of the issue, according to the Times:

“As tests have become higher-stakes tests, as the competition between kids for scholarships and college entrance has increased, the likelihood of kids looking for ways to beat the system — to cheat — has increased,” said Henry Grishman, superintendent of Jericho Public Schools on Long Island, which has 3,200 students.

School officials say the testing system has many flaws, most notably the fact that there are no consequences for cheaters. When the Educational Testing Service, the company that administers the test, detects irregularities, it simply notifies the affected students that their scores are being withdrawn.

Neither colleges nor high schools are ever alerted that cheating was suspected. Tom Ewing, an Educational Testing Service spokesman, said that confidentiality laws meant to protect minors prevented his company from disclosing that information. Of 2.25 million SATs taken every year, about 1,000 scores are withdrawn for misbehavior, 99 percent of which are for copying, he said.

Four of the students who said (Sanuel) Eshaghoff took the test for them are in college now; the colleges have not been notified by the testing service of their statements, Ms. Rice said. The other two students are in high school. It is not known whether the school district plans to take action against them.

To read the entire article, click here.


Know when to fold them–Miss. PTA president gambles away cookie money

Have you noticed the special attention we at the Chain Gang Blog give to PTA embezzlement stories? Well, there’s a reason for that.

WAPT-TV reports:

JACKSON, Miss. — A former Jackson elementary school PTA president has pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges and has been ordered to pay $60,000, Hinds County court officials said. Prosecutors said Nicarra “Nikki” Nicole Johnson gambled away about $20,400, of the Timberlawn Parent Teacher Association’s money. The money had been raised by students who sold cookie dough as a fundraiser.

Coleman recently pleaded guilty and was given a suspended eight-year sentence. She was also sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $1,000 a month for five years, Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith said.
Johnson surrendered her PTA position after a board member noticed the money was missing from Timberlawn’s PTA, officials said. She was indicted in 2010.

Read more:

Atlanta Cheating Scandal: Two teachers cleared of wrongdoing

And three more were implicated. Oh well.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Two Atlanta Public Schools teachers accused of cheating in an expansive state investigative report have been cleared and are back in the classroom.

Kiatonya Wormley of Miles Elementary and Lori Dewberry of Jackson Elementary were allowed to return to work after state investigators notified the district there was not enough evidence to punish them for academic fraud.

Dewberry returned to Jackson, while Wormley was transferred to Kimberly Elementary, school officials said.

…“We have said that as these cases run their course and as people are cleared of any wrongdoing, that on a case by case basis they will be placed back to work. We are following through on that commitment,” APS spokesman Keith Bromery said.

The reversal doesn’t mean the report’s remaining findings are flawed, said former state Attorney General Mike Bowers, one the special investigators who worked on the probe.

About 180 educators implicated in the report, including five high-ranking administrators, could  lose their license to teach in Georgia and some may also face criminal  charges and termination.

“We were trying to do justice, but to be just,” Bowers said. “Where we are shown we have made a mistake, or read things incorrectly, we are open to revisions. But that cuts both ways.”

Three additional educators were implicated after the report’s July release, Bowers said.

Investigators said they do not expect more educators to be added or removed from the list. But they have said all along their investigation didn’t capture every instance of cheating, which reportedly went on as long as a decade in the district. The investigation came after a series of stories in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution raised questions about improbable gains in test scores.

To read more, click here.



Obama derangement syndrome, part duh

Update: The Atlanta Journal Constitution ran an overview article on the issue this morning.

This is worthy of ridicule.

Polictical Insider reports that students at a Gwinnett County (Georgia) middle school  are allowed to opt out of listening to the president’s speech.  You can read the principal’s letter here.

As one commenter to Jim Galloway’s post put it:

I think this is the school system being a coward. Either Obama’s address is educational and needs to be seen by the entire student body or it is not and no student should watch it. We elect local board members to make these types of decisions and they do not have the courage to do it. What freaking cowards.

Emory student arrested in New York SAT test-taking scam

Updates: lack of security an issue. To read more, click here.  College Board moves to tighten security. Click here.

Sounds like the classic American story of rich kids paying smart kid to do their work, bragging about it, and getting turned in by their classmates.

From the Associated Press, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

GARDEN CITY, N.Y.  — A Emory University student from New York was paid between $1,500 and $2,500 to stand in for at least a half dozen students attending a prestigious Long Island high school and take the SAT exam for them, a prosecutor said Tuesday in announcing criminal charges in the case.

Six students were also arrested Tuesday on misdemeanor charges, although authorities said the investigation remained active and that other high school students in the area may also have been involved.

Sam Eshaghoff, 19, of Great Neck was facing arraignment after being arrested on charges of scheming to defraud, criminal impersonation and falsifying business records, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement.

* * *

Rice said that between 2010 and 2011, six students at Great Neck North High School paid him to take the SAT in hopes of achieving a higher score. The six students implicated in the case were not identified because of their ages, a spokesman for the prosecutor said.

Earlier this year, Great Neck North faculty members heard rumors that students had paid a third party to take the SAT for them, Rice said. Administrators then identified six students who “had large discrepancies between their academic performance records and their SAT scores,” the prosecutor said.

The students had registered to take the tests at a different school where they would not be recognized. Eshaghoff then went to the schools and showed a photo ID with his picture, but another student’s name on it, Rice said. At least once, Eshaghoff flew home from college primarily to impersonate two students and took the SAT twice in one weekend.

To read more, click here.