PROBE of Grade Tampering Extended to Include English Tests

Friday, July 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(TULSA) - An investigation into grade tampering at Tulsa Community College has led to the suspension of international students for allegedly lying about their English language skills when they applied for admission, a school official said Thursday.

The probe at the college's Northeast campus was broadened to include students' falsification of their scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL, TCC spokeswoman Lauren Brookey said.

International students can take the test from TCC or from Educational Testing Service, a company in Princeton, N.J. Foreign students who take the examination must show that their English skills are adequate for college work.

Officials believe more than two dozen international students submitted altered scores from the testing company but got caught when TCC double-checked the scores, Brookey said.

``As part of the investigation into grade tampering at TCC, we discovered that several students had falsified their (English proficiency) scores,'' she said.

The tests are organized by TCC's International Student Services Department, which is at TCC Northeast.

Some of the suspended students are among 53 international students who are believed to be involved in a grade-tampering scheme. The school has placed a hold on the transcripts of the 53 students, which means they can't enroll in TCC classes or transfer to other schools.

The school took the action in an effort to get the students to talk about their involvement in the cheating. But the names of several more international students have been added to the probe of the falsified TOEFL scores, Brookey said.

TCC has mailed letters of suspension to each of the students, many of whom are from Saudi Arabia, Syria and Kuwait, she said. The students have three days to appeal the action, she said.

TCC will now drastically change the method by which it processes applications from international students, Brookey said.

``From now on we will only accept TOEFL scores directly from Educational Testing Service and not the students,'' she said.

International students who are expelled could lose their residency status and be asked to leave the United States.

TCC looked at student records dating back to autumn 1999 in its effort to ferret out falsified English proficiency scores, Brookey said. The grade-tampering probe is continuing, she said.

The school announced last month that dozens of international students and possibly staff members were involved in grade tampering.

One TCC employee resigned after she admitted that she altered scores for her boyfriend and a friend of his.