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[March 18, 2014]
Flagler's testing results falsified ; Test scores, GPAs were exaggerated; college's ranking will be affected [Florida Times Union]
(Florida Times Union Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Flagler College's vice president of enrollment management has resigned after an internal investigation revealed he exaggerated test scores, GPAs and class rankings of incoming freshmen from fall 2010 to fall 2013.
Flagler President William Abare, Jr., said Monday night that the investigation showed that test scores, GPAs and class ranks had been changed in the computer system.
The erroneous information was reported to several agencies, including U.S. News & World Report, which ranked Flagler College tied for No. 8 among more than 70 colleges in the first tier of its Best Regional Colleges in the South category.
Abare did not name Marc Williar, who was vice president of enrollment management until last Friday, but said Monday that the college would be searching for a new vice president of enrollment management.
Williar returned a call on Monday evening to The Record and said he made the changes to boost the college's profile after noticing an incoming freshman class in 2010 that had lower scores than previous years.
"I hope any negative feelings would be directed at me, certainly not at the college," Williar said. "I had a lapse in judgment. I would love to go unring the bell, but I can't." Flagler College was also listed in The Princeton Review's 2014 edition of its guide, "The Best 378 Colleges," according to a Flagler College news release.
When the numbers get sorted out, the rankings will change, Abare said.THE INVESTIGATION The investigation began last week after a faculty member noticed discrepancies in student placement. The faculty member reported his concerns to staff, and an investigation ensued.
Hard copies of student records from the registrar's office confirmed that some SAT and ACT scores, GPAs and class rankings had been changed for some students. In all cases, they were changed for the better, he said.
"This was not accidental," Abare said.
Abare said he did not know how many students had their information changed.
All of the information was changed after students were admitted to the school, so it will not affect the status of any students, he said.
"So they were already set to come to Flagler and they had already been placed in appropriate classes," he said.
The data changed spans from the fall semester of 2010 to the fall semester of 2013.
The IT department helped lead officials to the computer that the changes were made from.
On Friday, Abare confronted Williar, who he said took full responsibility and "expressed great regret for having done so, and he resigned right on the spot, so he is no longer with the college." Williar said he served as vice president for enrollment management from 2008 until Friday, when he had a "difficult and embarrassing" conversation with Abare. He had been a chief enrollment officer for about 21 years.
"I really love this college so much, and there had been a decline a little bit in the profile of the incoming class," he said.
When he saw that drop, he adjusted some scores to make the incoming 2010 class look more like a previous year's class. And he kept going in subsequent years. "I made a serious misadjustment and inflated the profile and said that it was something it wasn't." The data that was changed was reported to not only U.S. News & World Report but also the U.S. Department of Education, and the accrediting body for the Southern regional states, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Abare said he had notified the accrediting organization and planned to call the Department of Education.
An independent investigation into the score changes begins today, Abare said.
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