Students take the SAT in hopes of going to college and getting a good education, but some New Jersey students are getting a first-hand lesson in the ins and outs of the legal system – all due to a simple typo.
In this case the plaintiffs’ lawyers are the ones looking for a high score with a class action lawsuit against the Educational Testing Service and the College Board. The case centers on a misprint that gave students more time to complete a section of the test.
The suit claims that the typo in the instructions for the June 6th SAT test allotted students 25 minutes instead of the normal 20 to complete one of the math or reading sections. Some proctors noticed the mistake and allotted the right amount of time, while others did not.
To maintain fairness, the College Board decided not to score that section of the test. Since those skills were still tested in other sections, the test was simply truncated and the results still valid. The College Board also offered June 6th test takers the opportunity to retake the exam in October for free.
But the plaintiffs are arguing that they would not have sat for the test if they knew the scoring would not be consistent. While no one likes sitting for the SAT, how exactly does one assign a dollar award to those lost 20 to 25 minutes?
The lawsuit asks for the $55 extra they spent for the option of having the test hand scored to verify the results. The lead plaintiffs, a mother and son, claim the son’s scores did not change during the hand scoring (and why would they?) so they should not have to pay the $55 they spent on score verification because of the typo incident.
They’re also claiming that there was no time to re-take the test as the son was in his final year of high school. But procrastination is not usually reason for a lawsuit.
While these seem like issues best handled by the customer service department or a time-management professional, the mother and son are seeking class action status on behalf of all individuals who paid for score verification after the June 6th test. This could be as many as 487,000 students.
You don’t need to ace the math portion of the SAT to imagine how much that could add up to in damages.
But the test typo is a lawsuit opportunity apparently too good to pass up. And the plaintiffs’ lawyers know what they are doing – including where to bring the case.
Though the plaintiffs live in Delaware, they are bringing the lawsuit in New Jersey state court. The Institute for Legal Reform’s 2015 Lawsuit Climate Report ranks Delaware’s legal system first of the fifty states for a fair and balanced lawsuit system. New Jersey? They came in at 38.
The plaintiffs did their homework. Whether their lawsuit passes the legal test remains to be seen.