Dr. Isabelle Gonthier weighs in on the recent college admissions scandal

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This week North American news outlets are buzzing with a breaking scandal revealing billions of dollars in in college admission fraud. More than 50 individuals have been charged (to date) for paying consulting firms to falsify information, bribe entrance and exam officials, or otherwise “cheat” the system to gain entrance to a top tier college.

Evidence is showing that many of those implicated actually paid stand-ins to write the SATs and other college entrance exams for themselves, or their children.

Yardstick Assessment Strategies (YAS) takes any news of test misconduct and fraud seriously, as it can negatively impact the credentials of anyone else who has taken that test, and chip away at the trust that the public puts in educational and credentialing organizations.

See below for some of the headlines:

Dr. Isabelle Gonthier, our President and Chief Operating Officer, has taken the time to write an official response to the scandal.

If you have any questions for Isabelle about how the scandal may affect your organization or your credentials, please contact us at [email protected]. If you are a member of the media, you can request further comment or an interview with Isabelle through [email protected].


The information that has been released this week about the cheating scandal on college admission tests in the US is very concerning, if not plainly outrageous. As a testing professional, and the president of the largest professional testing organization in Canada, I am troubled by the blatant violation of test administration standards. Standards such as NCCA, NCTA, or ISO 17024 clearly define the obligations and oversight required in test centres and of their personnel, including proctors. Identity verification is one of the most important steps in test administration, as is the monitoring of the testing event to ensure the integrity of the whole process and ultimately, of the results. It is also imperative that any testing accommodations (e.g., extra time, separate room) be reviewed by a professional and be supported by appropriate documentation. The purpose of accommodations is to provide the same opportunity to candidates with a diagnosed disability to demonstrate knowledge or competence, not to give them a better chance of success or enhance their performance.

I believe that more education on how to detect cheating but more importantly on the impact of cheating is necessary so the public, schools, teachers, parents, and regulators are better positioned to identify, question, and prosecute inappropriate behaviours on standardized tests. Nobody wins when cheating is involved, and certainly not the cheaters in the long run.