Kaplan Settles Dispute Over Computer Exams

Kaplan Educational Centers is now out from under a lawsuit brought against it for its attempt to prove the computerized Graduate Record Exam was vulnerable to cheating.

The Educational Testing Service, which administers the GRE, and Kaplan reached a settlement Jan. 22. ETS sued Kaplan after the Manhattan, N.Y.-based company launched a several-month undercover operation in 1994.

Kaplan sent 22 expert test takers to nine cities to take the computerized GRE and memorize as many questions as possible. Kaplan said some of the questions were showing up on subsequent tests enough times that it was possible to reconstruct much of the test.

Approximately 400,000 students take the test each year to gain entry to graduate schools in the United States, Canada, and some other nations. ETS has been offering a computerized GRE since 1993.

ETS, based in Lawrenceville, N.J., responded by reducing the number of times it offered the test. It also filed a federal lawsuit in Baltimore in January 1995 alleging copyright infringement, breach of contract, and fraud.

Judge J. Frederick Motz ruled that ETS could proceed with its allegation of copyright infringement, but threw out the rest of ETS's lawsuit.

Dennis Black, a lawyer for Kaplan, said Jan. 26 that the judge found there was a security problem with the test. ETS began fixing the problem in late 1994 after it became aware of Kaplan's secret operation, he said. "Their internal documents had shown they were well aware of this flaw before they introduced the exam," Mr. Black said.

ETS sued to fight the impression created by Kaplan that it was possible to cheat on the computerized GRE, Ernest Anastasio, ETS's executive vice president, said Jan. 26.

"Part of the public story ... was that Kaplan was led to do this because students in their course were claiming to have knowledge of cheating. Kaplan acknowledged in their settlement they had no evidence of cheating," he said.

In the settlement, Kaplan agreed not to try to reproduce any part of the ETS's exams and to pay the company $150,000. It admitted that "some of its actions were inappropriate and that ETS was harmed by what took place," Kaplan emphasized "that it never had any evidence that any student actually cheated" on the computerized test, the statement said.

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