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Supporting Transparency and Modernizing Compliance in Testing

ACT believes strongly in the rationale behind Truth in Testing requirements. We are committed to safeguarding the rights of individuals participating in our testing programs, and we comply with those requirements as prescribed.

With the new July test date this year, the ACT is now offered on seven national test dates each year. Unfortunately, ACT is unable to offer all test dates to students in New York and now California because their “Truth in Testing” laws would require us to release another test form each year beyond those that we already release, and that is cost-prohibitive for us.

New York’s “Truth in Testing” law requires most testing agencies to disclose test forms for at least two-thirds of the test takers in the state each year. ACT is already releasing three test forms annually in New York. Releasing a fourth form would add significant development costs which would need to be passed on to consumers—something we are opposed to doing. That’s why we don’t offer the February ACT test date in New York test centers. ACT will forgo the administration of the July test in New York for the same reasons.

Consistent with similar modifications already in place in the current statute, ACT proposes changing the current required proportion of disclosed test content in New York from two-thirds of test takers to three test forms. This would keep within the spirit of the law, level the playing field among business competitors, and allow ACT to offer all test dates to all New York students.

California requires that a testing company release 50 percent of the tests it administers. The statute specifically requires that, if that number includes fractions of a test, the number be rounded up; so, administering six tests would require releasing three of them, but administering seven tests would require releasing four. ACT is forgoing its July test date in California so that we may comply with those requirements. We would like to provide the July test in California so that students there who wish to take it may do so, so we will be seeking a modification that would eliminate any “rounding up” of forms. This is an easy fix that would allow ACT to provide all seven tests in California, still comply with the release requirements, and serve more students who are seeking expanded test dates.

While some may want to characterize these attempts as a way for ACT to “weaken” or subvert current law, nothing could be further from the truth.

So: Are we making efforts in New York and California to provide more access to students? Yes, we definitely are. We have not hidden these attempts. We want to change these statutes so that we can support students with greater access to the test while still complying with the law and making transparency and equity a reality in testing.

We believe these are antiquated reporting requirements. Many of these laws date back to the late 1970s and early 1980s; they served a purpose in providing access to tests when technology didn’t easily allow it. But, today, ACT provides test forms to students, educators, test prep providers and the general public in multiple ways:

  • One form available for free on ACT.org; 
  • Three forms available through The Official ACT Prep Guide (for purchase); 
  • Three forms (including 1 shorter but still representative form) available through ACT Online Prep (for purchase); and 
  • Three forms available through the Test Information Release (TIR) service that Saturday test takers can purchase after taking the test.
Those released test forms provide significant and ample exposure to the type of questions and the form of the overall assessment for all to see.

One final note: Even complying with these laws is cumbersome. ACT experienced great difficulty with the California law because no state agency with education jurisdiction (including the Department of Education) would accept our delivery of forms last year because they didn’t think they had compliance responsibilities. That’s how important the California law is. After a great deal of due diligence we were able to find some obscure department inside an agency (Finance) that agreed to take our box of forms.

Our desire is that students be able to test when it fits their schedule. Making these necessary tweaks in the law isn’t subverting or weakening anything. These changes allow for greater access to our assessments while at the same time complying with state regulations. It’s really that simple.

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