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Student Accused of Cheating on S.A.T. Wins Suit

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A Flushing, N.Y., student accused of cheating on the S.A.T. because his score shot up 410 points from an earlier attempt has won a victory in his lawsuit against Educational Testing Service.

A New York State appellate court last month upheld a 1992 Queens County Supreme Court ruling that E.T.S. had failed to investigate sufficiently before questioning the validity of the student's score. The company does not plan to appeal.

Brian Dalton first took the Scholastic Aptitude Test as an 11th-grade student in May 1991. His combined score was 620. Six months and one Princeton Review course later, he scored 1,030.

Mr. Dalton attributed the unusually high increase both to the six-week test-preparation course and to his improved health, noting that he had mononucleosis the first time he took the test.

"The practice of ignoring Dalton's evidence without even initiating a preliminary investigation clearly demonstrates a lack of good faith by E.T.S.,'' the appellate court declared.

Fingerprints at Issue

The evidence submitted by the plaintiff included his ability to identify the proctor at his second test; the proctor's testimony that she remembered seeing him sign the attendance roster; and an affidavit from a student who recalled seeing Mr. Dalton at the test site.

But E.T.S. officials said handwriting experts concluded that Mr. Dalton "had not taken the test that produced the higher scores.''

A spokesman for the testing corporation also argued that Mr. Dalton was not sick the first time he took the test, noting that the student participated in a national swim meet at about the same time.

An E.T.S. statement also contends that Mr. Dalton's fingerprints could not be found anywhere on the 40-page text booklet.

While an investigator hired by the Dalton family was unable to find any of Mr. Dalton's prints on the booklet, the student's prints were found on the answer sheet.

Now a junior at Queens College, Mr. Dalton argued that E.T.S.'s refusal to release his second set of scores prevented him from gaining admission and scholarships to the colleges of his choice.

The student and his family are seeking from $300,000 to $500,000 in damages, which will be decided in a separate trial this fall.

Princeton Review Inc. is paying half of the family's legal bills.

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