Report analyses Home Office’s response to English language test cheating

    The National Audit Office (NAO) has released a report on its investigation into the response of the Home Office in reacting to cheating in English language tests. The investigation examined the department’s response to suspected cheating in the Test of English for International Communication following a BBC’s Panorama programme in 2014, which uncovered examples of organised fraud taking place during Secure English Language Tests. This includes the Home Office’s approach to identifying cheats, the assessment of evidence and subsequently what happened to those accused of cheating.
    The NAO in its report outlines its key findings:

    • in 2014, the Home Office obtained evidence of large-scale organised fraud from multiple sources

    • virtually every test in the UK was identified as suspicious

    • for two years the department revoked the visas of anyone with an invalid test, without expert assurance of the validity of voice recognition evidence

    • in 2016, the Home Office’s independent expert estimated that voice recognition checks would have identified substantially fewer than 1% of people of cheating incorrectly, based on a series of assumptions

    • most but not all people identified as cheating had very high marks

    • it is difficult to estimate accurately how many people may have been wrongly identified

    • thousands of people accused of cheating have still won the right to remain in the UK

    • NAO saw no evidence that the department considered whether individuals had been misclassified or that there were anomalies

    • it was not possible for the department to directly check the accuracy of classifications

    Source: Investigation into the response to cheating in English language tests

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