From the last time I wrote about standardized testing more has transpired. Both SAT and ACT have had more issues.
Let’s start with SAT. After the report that the August test had been compromised scores have been released. There seems to be an inordinate number of students with whom I am associated one way or another who scored very well on the test. I raised the issue of the testing situation with some university representatives a week or so ago and the question was raised whether schools would be skeptical of the scores students received. While not entirely skeptical, the reps did say they would take the overall situation into account when considering scores from the August test.
Further along those lines, not everyone who took the test has received their scores. Placing them in no man’s land wondering if their scores will be released or cancelled. So once again, students are paying the price for an issue caused by College Board.
At the beginning of last week, in Florida, a student filed a Class Action suit against College Board and ETS (the test administrators). The interesting thing is that the lawsuit claims, “Rather than accept the responsibility and acknowledge its errors, the College Board, and by association, ETS, appear to blame students for their failure to keep the exam secure.”* Which is interesting that both organizations responsible for the test are blaming students for recycled test questions. More on the lawsuit can be found in this article from the Washington Post, and the quote is from the piece by Valerie Strauss.
What is also quite interesting is that College Board and ETS are very aware of how test prep companies get ahold of the material and yet are blaming students for what students do for any test – prepare. And when the stakes are high, they will go where they think they can get the best advice or information.
Now on to the ACT fiasco. This last Saturday was the first ACT online test. Held around the world schools were frantically working with their in school Technical staff to get the platform up and running. Lest one think that this all went smoothly, it did not. Aside from technical glitches that forced students to be unable to complete one section of the test and move on to the next section and losing time trying to sort it out, students had their registrations cancelled. One of the functions –the Pause button, that would allow students to pause the test if there was a technical issue during the test, had been disabled for all international test centers. No test administrator had been forewarned and when calling the help line, some administrators were told to unplug the computer.
Schools that offered the ACT were sent this:
“Important message from ACT: As you know, ACT conducted its first two days of computer-based testing at our international ACT test centers this weekend. The large majority of international examinees were able to successfully complete their ACT test and appreciated the new format. Some international test centers, however, did experience technical and administration issues that unfortunately prevented some students from completing their test. ACT takes these issues very seriously, and we sincerely apologize to those students impacted by them. We understand the importance of ACT scores to students, and we are diligently working to determine the best options for affected students. These options may include retesting, arranged testing, and rescheduling to a future test date. We will be working individually with each impacted student in the coming week to determine which option best meets their needs. Thank you.”
At the heart of all this is the anxiety that students feel in what is already an insane process. They go forward wondering if they will be able to take a test, whether the test conditions will allow them to finish, whether their scores will be released or the test cancelled. As mentioned previously the students are the victims here. I do not think that the SAT event was one of cheating, as in previous occurrences. The August mess is on College Board. ACT, well, one might forgive an inaugural event, but really! Sort the issues out the Spring before, not the first test of the testing season.
I feel for the students, but I also place a bulk of the blame on universities and colleges, which still require standardized testing. Yes, I know there are some schools that have to use scores, but in reality they are quite few in comparison.
Calling all colleges and universities – It’s time to stop subjecting students to this chaos!