Pelham students receive PSAT scores after controversy

Padraig Pearlman, Editorials Editor

Pelham Memorial High School students who took the PSAT this year finally received their scores on December 15, ten days after the expected release date. This followed an issue with the test’s administration. According to an email to parents, the school “inadvertently administered” the October 15 test three days early, raising concerns within the College Board that test-takers may have shared the questions with students who later took the same test. School administrators visited classes on December 12, requiring all students to sign a document declaring that they had not spoken to anyone outside Pelham about the exam questions.

Despite the expected score release date being December 5, the administration did not contact parents or families until December 9 to notify them that they were aware of the problem. According to an email to parents from superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ on the day of the score release, this was because “the College Board advised [school administrators] to refrain from providing additional details.”

An anonymous source claimed that the school had received no communication from the College Board in the nearly two months between the test date and the expected score release date. According to the source, the first time the College Board ever mentioned the matter was when the school reached out on December 6. The source also said that the exam proctors from Pelham had not seen the exams until the day of the administration and had not noticed the incorrect day on the exam.

The same source speculated that the College Board was “worried about litigation” from disaffected test-takers and their families, confirming that the surveys handed out to students in class were a form of legal protection. In an email to families on December 14, Champ said that “the survey collection process will be completed by [December 15],” the day the scores were ultimately released. She noted that some students were unable to complete the surveys due to illness.

In her final email to parents, Champ admitted that “human error” was to blame for the “wrong exam [being] mistakenly ordered.” Furthermore, Champ apologized for the score delay on behalf of the district and outlined a plan to avoid similar mistakes in the future. Steps in the district’s plan include “employing stricter oversight and redundancy in the test ordering process,” “employing stricter oversight and redundancy for double checking the exams before they are administered,” and “enhancing [the school’s] pre and post-administration expectations and procedures with all exam administrators and proctors prior to each exam administration.”

The PSAT also serves as the qualifying exam for the National Merit Scholarship, $2,500 scholarship awarded to about 8,000 high-performing students each year. PMHS students will still be eligible to enter the competition.

When asked about the score delay, Junior Syd Ivanov said, “It is outrageous for this to happen after the amount of work we had to do for the PSAT.” Another anonymous student echoed Ivanov’s complaints. They commented, “I was heartbroken when I believed that I might not be eligible to qualify for National Merit because of this mistake.”

“I was a little disappointed at the delay of my score, but I’m glad the school worked it out in the end,” said another junior.

PMHS principal Mark Berkowitz declined to comment on the matter and referred The Pel Mel to Champ’s memo.