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E.T.S. Claims Sabotage Of Graduate Examination

A national test-preparation company agreed last week to temporarily halt its challenges to the security of the computerized version of the Graduate Record Examinations.

Educational Testing Service, which administers the G.R.E., sued Kaplan Educational Centers late last month, accusing the New York-based company of stealing questions from the test.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore, claims Kaplan violated copyright and privacy laws when it re-created a portion of the computerized G.R.E. In addition to E.T.S., other plaintiffs in the case are the G.R.E. Board and the Columbia, Md.-based Sylvan Learning Centers, where the computerized tests are taken.

Kaplan officials said they were concerned over the vulnerability of the exam to cheating, so the company had 20 representatives take the test and memorize questions. Those questions were subsequently compiled and presented to E.T.S. on Dec. 10 as evidence of the test's weakness.

Kaplan officials said last week they would stop the practice while they negotiate with the Princeton, N.J.-based test-maker.

Nancy S. Cole, the president of E.T.S., said her company is equipped to handle typical attempts to break security and that Kaplan was attempting to "sabotage computer-based testing."

Jonathan Grayer, the president of Kaplan, said his company had no desire to eliminate computer testing.

The legal dispute came after E.T.S. announced Dec. 15 that it would offer the G.R.E. on a condensed schedule to boost security. Company officials estimated that about 100,000 of the 420,000 people who take the G.R.E. each year will choose the computerized version this year, which was first offered in November 1992.

Advertising Agreement: The makers of the controversial "Hooked on Phonics" reading program may have gotten themselves off the hook, for the most part, with the federal government over their advertising claims. But television and radio listeners may be hearing less of the ubiquitous commercials.

Gateway Educational Products Ltd. agreed last month to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the company made misleading claims about the success of the product. The reading-assistance program comprises workbooks, audio cassettes, and flash cards that sell for more than $200.

The F.T.C. had alleged that Gateway did not have adequate evidence that "Hooked on Phonics" could easily teach children, adults, and people with learning disabilities how to read, as its advertising suggested.

The agreement prohibits the company from claiming educational benefits without substantiation.

Officials at Gateway maintained that the program is effective, and pointed out that the F.T.C. was only challenging the company to demonstrate more concrete scientific evidence before claiming educational benefits.

Charter Network Launched: Three Minnesotans have formed a national network to increase the number of nonsectarian charter schools in the United States and Canada.

The creation of Charter School Strategies Inc. was announced at a meeting in Minneapolis last month. The nonprofit corporation consists of 18 board members and 15 affiliates who have helped start charter schools or enact charter-school legislation.

"With the rapid expansion of charter schools around the nation, there is a tremendous need for information and resource assistance," said State Sen. Ember Reichgott Junge of Minnesota, the board chairwoman and the sponsor of the first charter-school law in the country.

Among the other board members are Superintendent Howard Fuller of Milwaukee, former State Sen. Gary Hart of California, and Lawrence Patrick of the Detroit school board.

More information is available from Peggy Hunter, C.S.S.I. President, 210 West Grant St., Suite 321, Minneapolis, Minn. 55403; (612) 321-9221.

Vol. 14, Issue 29

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