ACT Misused for School Ratings, Accreditation, Accountability; Test-Taker Increase Boosted by Company-Sanctioned Score Abuse

for further information:
Bob Schaeffer (239) 395-6773

for use with release of high school class of 2002 ACT test scores

A major portion of the increase in high school graduates taking the ACT college admission test stems from misuses of the exam encouraged by its manufacturer, according to FairTest, the National Center for Fair & Open Testing. FairTest called on ACT, Inc. to crack down on score abusers by withholding scores from states where they are not used properly.

For example, Colorado and Illinois now require all high school juniors to take the ACT -- whether or not they intend to apply to colleges which require them -- because of arrangements between state officials and the test manufacturer. ACT scores are part of Colorado's "accountability" reports rating public schools, despite a State Board of Education study concluding that the test is a poor gauge of what is taught in classrooms. Illinois includes the ACT in its Prairie State Achievement Exam battery, used to award honors on high school diplomas. The Illinois Board of Education has also tried to link ACT scores to auto insurance rates.

"The ACT has been validated solely for undergraduate admissions and placement, though it is at best a weak predictor of college performance," explained FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer. "Additional applications are not justified by independent research. Programs which rely on ACT results for other purposes amount to test score abuse."

FairTest charged that the ACT is also misused in Missouri, where scores are part of the school accreditation system, and in Oklahoma, where it is a component of the state's school ranking formula. Several states require students to exceed ACT score hurdles in order to be eligible for taxpayer-funded college scholarships, another use FairTest says is unjustified. "Responsible test manufacturers have an obligation to stop improper uses of their products by refusing to send scores to institutions which misapply them," Schaeffer concluded.

 

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