Investigation of College Admissions
ACT Commends Actions Taken to Support Fairness in Testing and College Admissions
ACT commends the actions taken by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts and other law enforcement units to investigate and uncover these unlawful activities by several individuals. We appreciate the efforts of the authorities and the attention that they have brought to the importance of fairness in testing. We have been fully cooperating with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts and other law enforcement units on this case to identify and expose the few bad individuals who have attempted to undermine a fair testing environment. We will continue to assist in this ongoing investigation to ensure individuals involved are held accountable for their actions.
ACT contracts with thousands of people to locally administer the ACT around the country. These individuals certify to follow ACT's policies and procedures to administer the ACT test. In these cases, the two charged individuals allegedly did not follow ACT's rules.
ACT is committed to ensuring that all students have an equal opportunity to demonstrate what they’ve learned in school through their hard work. No student should have an unfair advantage over any other. The integrity of the ACT scores that we send to colleges and scholarship agencies is of critical importance to students and their parents. ACT works hard to ensure that the ACT scores we report to colleges are fairly earned. The ACT was founded in 1959 to extend opportunities to those who engage in honest, hard work; it remains the foundation of our mission today. We encourage anyone with information regarding possible misconduct on the ACT to report that information using ACT’s anonymous Test Security Hotline. More information on the investigation can be found here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/investigations-college-admissions-and-testing-bribery-scheme
For nearly 60 years, ACT scores have helped students pursue opportunities based on their aspirations, achievements, and hard work. We remain committed to protecting the integrity of the ACT test and the interests of the vast majority of students who seek college admissions the right way.
What was ACT’s involvement in the investigation?
Because the matter remains an active investigation, we are limited in what we can disclose at this time. We can confirm, as stated in law enforcement’s affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, ACT assisted law enforcement with this investigation by having “granted CAPLAN’s daughter extended time on the exam at the request of law enforcement.” This was instrumental in law enforcement’s efforts to collect additional, important evidence in this case. Our assistance to law enforcement is ongoing.
Will ACT be working with colleges and universities on internal investigations?
In addition to assisting with law enforcement on this matter, we are working with colleges and universities who are currently requesting additional information from ACT for their own internal investigations. We are unable to provide specific information about the schools or the information we are providing.
What is ACT doing to ensure fair testing and uphold the integrity of scores?
More than 3,000 colleges, universities, and scholarship agencies use scores on the ACT test to make decisions about admission, scholarship awards and course placement. We take our responsibility to maintain the integrity of test score data seriously.
ACT’s test security program is multifaceted. We conduct extensive, and proactive analyses of our testing data in search of irregularities that could indicate misconduct. We engage in unannounced visits to test centers to make sure all policies and procedures are being followed. We maintain a test security hotline that enables members of the public to anonymously report cheating. And, we invite colleges and universities who use ACT scores to inquire about scores that are not consistent with their observations of a student’s performance. These are just a few of the activities we use to identify potentially invalid scores.
When we find scores that we believe to be invalid, we take action. We routinely conduct Individual Score Reviews following a procedure described here. If scores are cancelled, ACT notifies the colleges and universities to which the scores were sent. If the situation warrants, we work with law enforcement to hold individuals attempting to scheme or disrupt the ACT accountable for their actions. For example, ACT recently identified a group of impersonators who had traveled internationally to commit fraud on the ACT. ACT proactively intercepted the impersonators, alerted Thailand law enforcement, and all were arrested.
We are committed to maintaining the security of our exam and ensuring the scores we report are valid.
How are accommodations granted?
In general, students must have a professionally diagnosed disability and typically must already receive accommodations on the tests they take in school. You can access information about accommodations on the ACT website, act.org.
Who receives accommodations?
It has been a long-standing practice for ACT to provide the ACT test in accessible formats for students with disabilities. This practice started long before the passage of Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, which included a requirement for testing companies to offer accommodations.
Our process for determining who is eligible for accommodations and supports relies heavily on what schools provide to support these students in similar testing experiences. If students currently receive accommodations in school due to a professionally diagnosed and documented disability, a school official will submit the request to ACT. ACT reviews each request individually and then notifies the school official. ACT also provides supports for qualified English language learners.
Each year between 2013 and 2017, approximately 5 percent of ACT-tested graduates took the test with extended time. This is based on each year’s graduating seniors, as reported in our annual Profile Reports.
ACT treats all student information as confidential, as it is solely to determine eligibility for accommodations and English learner supports.
U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts
The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2013-2018
ACT annually reports on the progress of US high school graduates relative to college readiness. As a mission-driven, research-based nonprofit organization, ACT is committed to providing meaningful data to help individuals and institutions succeed. ACT’s goal is to provide relevant data on readiness to students, parents, educators, schools, districts, and states so that all can make informed decisions that will improve outcomes.