Schools Should Weigh Issues of Privacy in Military Test

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To the Editor:

We agree with Cameron Evans, who advocates more-stringent policies to protect the privacy of student data in his recent Commentary, "Five Steps to Reboot American Schools" (Oct. 30, 2013).

We feel it is a mistake, however, to limit this discussion to digital learning technologies. Last year, more than 600,000 high school students participated in the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Career Exploration Program (ASVAB-CEP), a test created by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The primary purpose of the program, according to military manuals, is to provide leads for recruiters. Even though most students take the test on school grounds, student test results fall outside the bounds of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA. SAT-like results, along with a student's vocational capabilities and Social Security numbers are provided to military recruiters, often without parental knowledge or consent.

The Rutgers School of Law recently released a memo advising counselors at the 14,000 schools where the ASVAB is administered to take steps to protect student privacy. Otherwise, the memo argues, these schools will be violating the ethical guidelines of the American School Counselor Association. Fortunately, the ASVAB program has an easy fix, according to the memo.

Military regulations identify several possibilities for schools regarding the release of ASVAB test information, including selecting a "no recruiter contact" option that enables schools to prevent test results from being used for recruiting purposes.

If schools do not actively select this option to protect their students' privacy, the military can access their students' test results for recruiting purposes.

Seth Kershner
Lee, Mass.
Pat Elder
Director, National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy
St. Mary's City, Md.

Vol. 33, Issue 13, Page 32

Published in Print: December 4, 2013, as Schools Should Weigh Issues of Privacy in Military Test
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