Black Florida teen fights back SAT cheating accusation


Source: CBS News

Kamilah Campbell at a press conference

Lauren Ridley, Staff Writer

A Florida student has been accused of cheating on the SAT because her score leaped dramatically the second time she took it.

Kamilah Campbell improved her score by 330 points when she retook the test again in October.  The 18-year-old said she spent countless hours studying so she could get into Florida State University, her dream school. But a representative from the standardized test said her score is under review and that she likely had prior knowledge of the test.

Campbell’s family has hired attorney Benjamin Crump, who is most famous for  representing the Trayvon Martin case in 2012. Crump has decided to take Campbell’s case pro bono, meaning that he is undertaking her case with no payment, while she waits for the validation of her scores.

“They said there’s no way I can improve from a 900 to a high score like this,” Campbell said. “They are saying I had to either cheat or have prior knowledge to the test.”.

“I did not cheat,” Campbell said during a press conference. “I studied, and I focused to achieve my dream. I worked so hard and did everything I could do.”

 Campbell’s high school teacher Julio Estrada is defending Campbell’s hard work. Campbell is a honor student and maintains a 3.1 GPA. “[Campbell] struck me as an individual who worked hard to improve her grade in my class,” he said. “During her time in my class, I never witnessed any dishonesty or other issues with integrity coming from her.”

Reviewing Campbell’s scores could take four and six weeks. Campbell said she missed the Jan.1 deadline to apply to her first choice, Florida State University, and now can’t apply for the SAT score scholarships.

 SAT claims that Campbell’s scores were flagged because they lacked any scratched work and they claim that her answers were similar to the other test takers that were sitting near her.

While neither Campbell nor Crump has made any reference to race, it is hard to ignore the fact that Campbell is African-American. Her color factors into the long SAT achievement gap between blacks and other races. “We’re outraged about the  accusation, the innuendo that this young black student can’t achieve,” he said.

“Instead of celebrating her and celebrating her achievement, they are trying to assassinate her character, and we won’t stand for that,” Crump told CBS.