SAT: More training needs to be done after students denied test over hairstyle change

Updated: Nov. 11, 2016 at 12:38 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) parent got an answer to her complaint filed with the College Board, which runs the SAT program.

Amber Barney tells WBTV she d ropped her daughter off at Garinger High School Saturday morning to take the test used for college admission.  Minutes after d ropping her off, she had to return to the school because the high school senior was denied.

"I'm very upset," the mother said. "This isn't okay."

The mother says the site coordinator said the daughter's hairstyle was different than the picture on the student's admission ticket. That was the reason for her being turned away.

The student, Alijah Barney, wold WBTV she wasn't the only student turned away because of hair.  She says about 60 other Garinger High School students were also denied.

RELATED: Student says about 60 people denied taking SAT at Garinger High School

"They were checking and basically sending everyone out the door," the student said, "Saying you can't take your test because one girl - she had braids in her hair for her picture, but the actual day of the test,  her braids were taken out. One boy - he had cut his hair off and saying he couldn't take the test - it didn't match the picture."

WBTV inquired about this and SAT officials responded.  Here is the statement spokesman Tom Ewing sent.

"The College Board and its partner, ETS, understand the frustration of the Garinger High School students who were unable, for reasons related to their photo, to take the SAT on Saturday, November 5, 2016.  Our priority is to ensure that students who register and prepare for the SAT are able to test. Processes for validating a student's ID on test day are developed by the College Board and ETS, not individual test center supervisors. We're taking steps to improve these processes, including by providing additional guidance to test center supervisors on how to determine if an admission ticket photo meets College Board criteria. For the affected Garinger High School students, we're offering free make-up tests."

The mother tells WBTV she is pleased with the outcome.  This SAT was more than just a test for the family, it was a pathway to a promising future.

"It felt like the end of the world to me," the student said. "Cause it's really important. I am missing out on a lot of things.  My family doesn't have a lot of money for me to go to school."

The plan was to get SAT scores back early enough so her daughter could apply for scholarships by the end of the year.

"Me being a single mom," Barney said. "It's hard, so any little bit helps - so she missed some deadlines that she is not going to apply for to receive certain scholarships because she won't have her SAT scores back in time."

SAT officials told the mother her daughter and all the other students denied, will be able take the SAT on November 19th. The results will be back in time for Barney to meet deadlines for scholarship applications.

The mother still believes different hairstyles shouldn't confuse testing site coordinators so they would admit the wrong person to take the test.

"I feel the staff is not trained," the mother said. "And they really caused a lot of kids and parents a lot of distrust and a lot of stress."

The mother believes until more training is complete, she believes outside people should be the test center supervisors and not CMS workers to determine who gets in to take the SAT.

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