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Bucknell University Inflated SAT Scores Over Seven Years

Bucknell University said it inflated its freshmen entrance-exam scores for seven years, burnishing students’ credentials.

From 2006 through 2012, the Lewisburg, Pennsylvania university annually omitted an average of 32 students’ SAT scores, most of which were lower than what the school reported. On the combined 1,600-point scale for the critical reading and math sections, average scores appeared to be 16 points higher than they actually were.

Colleges give the standardized test-score information to the public and to services that rank schools based on the data, such as U.S. News & World Report. The rankings are influential with students and parents making college choices. Last year, Emory University in Atlanta and Claremont McKenna College, near Los Angeles, admitted making similar misrepresentations.

“These numerical omissions, as relatively small as they were, violated the trust of every student, faculty member, staff member and Bucknellian they reached,” John C. Bravman, Bucknell’s president, said in a Jan. 25 statement to the school’s board.

The “enrollment management leadership” preparing the figures is “no longer with the university,” according to Bravman, who said he “can’t discern people’s intentions.”

Bill Conley, a new vice president for enrollment management, detected the discrepancy and began an investigation, Bravman said.

“I am confident that we now have the complete and accurate data to report to U.S. News, and that the information posted on our website is accurate,” Bravman said.

U.S. News, in its latest rankings, listed Bucknell as tied for 32nd place among U.S. liberal arts colleges.

Bucknell admitted 2,238 students to the Class of 2016, or 27 percent of those who applied, according to its website. Of those, 930 students enrolled. Bucknell said the middle 50 percent of students scored 580 to 680 on the SAT critical reading section and 620 to 710 on math.

Editors: Lisa Wolfson, Stephen West

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