ACT Response & Actions Related to College Admissions Investigation

The Top 3 Things You Should Know
 

Students and colleges/universities in the college admission process benefit from standardized tests.

ACT is committed to reducing barriers to college admission for all students.

ACT is committed to ensuring that no student has an unfair advantage on the ACT test.

Myths vs Facts

MYTH:

Only wealthy students and families have access to test prep materials.

FACT:

ACT has several options to help all students, regardless of their background, prepare for the ACT. Free for every student, ACT Academy is an online learning tool and test practice program with personalized learning plans. ACT Academy includes a variety of educational games, video lessons and interactive practice questions tailored to students’ academic needs.

Free test prep and other resources are also provided automatically to low-income students who register to take the ACT test with a fee waiver. Nearly every year, ACT provides more than a half million fee waivers to low-income students across the country.

 

 

MYTH:

Standardized tests are biased.

FACT:

ACT works hard to ensure that the ACT test is unbiased and fair to all students, so that no examinee has an unfair advantage over any other. We take great care to ensure that the individuals who write ACT test questions represent a diversity of races, ethnicities and geographic locations. Every test question goes through a formal external fairness review process to verify that it is unbiased, accessible and non-offensive to all students before it goes into an actual ACT test. 

 

 

MYTH:

Only students from high-income families and areas will do well on the ACT test.

FACT:

The ACT is designed to measure the skills and knowledge taught in schools and deemed important for success in first-year college coursework. Students who take challenging courses and work hard to master the material in those courses are likely to do well on the ACT, regardless of their background or family income.

ACT is committed to ensuring that all students, especially those in underserved populations, have access to quality coursework and information to assist them in preparing for the ACT and planning for their future. We offer numerous free test prep resources to all students. We provide fee waivers to low-income students to take the ACT for free, and those students receive free access to paid ACT test prep programs.

ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning is dedicated to closing gaps in equity, opportunity, and achievement among underserved learners through initiatives, research, and partnerships. ACT’s Policy Platforms present specific policy recommendations to address issues and inequities in education. We encourage individuals to share them with their policymakers. https://twitter.com/ACT

 

 

MYTH:

ACT scores are not predictive of success in college.

FACT:

Research shows that ACT scores are highly predictive of college success, not only in terms of first-year courses, but also in terms of persistence and graduation. High school grades are also highly predictive, but the simple truth is that the combination of high school grades and test scores provide the best predictor of college success. Many independent studies have shown this to be true.

 

MYTH:

There is a growing trend in colleges that don’t require applicants to submit test scores.

FACT:

While some colleges have moved to a test-optional admission format, the vast majority of freshmen who attend four-year, non-open admission colleges continue to enroll at schools which require or recommend submission of ACT/SAT scores for admission. And among students who apply to test optional schools, the large majority—80 percent—choose to submit their test scores. In other words, only around 1 percent of the nation’s college freshmen apply to colleges without submitting ACT/SAT scores.

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  

Q&A

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

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 here.

As a result of the college admissions investigation, ACT is taking measures to mitigate risks while ensuring that students who need accommodations to access our test receive them. These measures include strengthening our monitoring program of schools and diagnosticians, increasing onsite audit activity for accommodated testing, and applying greater scrutiny when Special Testing students request test location changes.

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.

Resources

U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts

Link to: Investigations of College Admissions and Testing Bribery Scheme

 

Accommodations

 

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.

 

Test Security