College & Workforce Readiness

ACT Agrees to Provide Scores for Students Caught in Testing Snafu

By Catherine Gewertz — June 05, 2017 3 min read
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The ACT has agreed to provide college-admissions scores for nearly 2,800 students in Ohio and Tennessee, after first refusing to score those students’ exams because of a mixup in test administration.

In April, 1,300 juniors from 21 school districts in Ohio and 1,492 juniors from 10 schools in Tennessee took versions of the exam that were intended for another testing date. The ACT uses different versions of the test on its various testing days, so using the wrong version could raise questions of test security.

The ACT notified schools that the wrong test had been given, and that it would not score those tests, according to local news media reports.

The Ohio district with the most affected students—Reynoldsburg, where 500 students’ scores were in jeopardy—pushed back. Superintendent Tina Thomas-Manning reached out to the state, and the state—which has a contract with ACT to test students statewide—filed an administrative complaint against ACT.

Thomas-Manning told a local ABC news affiliate that she checked with ACT to clarify which version of the test was to be given on the district’s April 19 test date, and gave that version. But later, ACT informed the district that it had given the wrong version of the test, and that it would not score those tests.

The company offered students in Ohio and Tennessee vouchers to retake the test for free in October. But Ohio, in its complaint, said that would mean students would be late submitting scores in college applications. The state also said students shouldn’t be forced to take the test on a Saturday, when their state’s ACT contract makes time for them to take it during the school day.

In Ohio, the ACT also can play a role in high school graduation. Students can use specified scores on the SAT or ACT, instead of the state’s standardized high school exam, to graduate. Ohio officials pointed to this in their complaint.

“By refusing to score the assessments, [ACT] is removing a graduation pathway for these students due to [its] own non-compliance,” said the complaint, as reported by the ABC affiliate WSYX.

Late last week, ACT reversed its earlier decision and agreed to provide college-reportable scores for all the students affected by the mixup in Ohio and Tennessee and said it “deeply regrets the inconvenience” that arose from what it called a “misadministration” of the test.

ACT spokesman Ed Colby said in an email to Education Week that the problem affected 1 percent of the schools that administered the ACT in Ohio, and 3 percent of such schools in Tennessee. Tennessee doesn’t administer the ACT statewide; districts there choose whether to give the SAT or ACT.

ACT didn’t release the number of students whose scores were affected, but district officials in Ohio reported those figures to the news media. Tennessee Department of Education spokeswoman Chandler Hopper told EdWeek that 1,492 students’ scores were affected by the mixup.

“Typically when a misadministration occurs, scores are cancelled and students are given an opportunity to take the ACT again at no cost to themselves,” the ACT’s Colby said in an email to EdWeek. “After a careful review of these particular situations, however, we determined that the impacted students’ tests would be scored and released. We will be reviewing our communications procedures and taking any necessary steps to help ensure these issues do not occur in the future.”

In a statement released last week, the ACT said it had “identified conditions that may have caused confusion in the test administration process,” but wouldn’t provide more details, citing a concern for test security.

Photo: Istockphoto

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A version of this news article first appeared in the High School & Beyond blog.