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Open Letter from ACT to Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally

During the fall 2017 “ACT Senior Retake Opportunity” in Tennessee, a misadministration of the ACT test occurred at a small number of Tennessee high schools—affecting several hundred students through no fault of their own.

On November 28, Paul Weeks, our senior vice president of Client Relations, and Scott Montgomery, our senior vice president of Public Affairs, met with state leaders in Tennessee regarding the situation and provided details that led to the misadministration that occurred outside of ACT’s control. ACT delivered a letter describing ACT’s decision to Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally.

We will continue to reach out to state and local officials in Tennessee. As noted in the letter to Lt. Gov. McNally: “We are committed to acting with integrity and doing what is in the best interest of all of our stakeholders in providing college readiness test scores that are valid, reliable and useful for all concerned.”

November 29, 2017

The Honorable Randy McNally
Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee
425 5th Avenue North
Suite 700 Cordell Hull Bldg.
Nashville, TN 37243

Lieutenant Governor McNally:

Thank you for taking time yesterday to meet with us to discuss the unfortunate misadministration of the ACT test that occurred during the fall 2017 ACT Senior Retake Opportunity, affecting several hundred students through no fault of their own or ACT.

ACT deeply regrets the inconvenience and confusion the misadministration has caused to impacted students at such an important time in their lives. We also regret that so much misinformation has been generated about this issue and the ensuing public perception that ACT is “punishing” students. As we discussed with you and the other leaders, we are committed to acting with integrity and doing what is in the best interest of all of our stakeholders in providing college readiness test scores that are valid, reliable and useful for all concerned.

We know students rely on standardized test scores from the ACT to make informed decisions about their future, particularly admissions, scholarship and career path decisions – universities around the country rely on the ACT for the same thing. It is imperative that ACT be able to stand behind the scores that students achieve so higher education and scholarship agencies can make critical decisions which affect students and their families.

We can assure you that ACT works relentlessly to provide clear instructions to students and schools to ensure the high-stakes ACT test is administered properly and fairly.

We have instituted several steps and check points to ensure an accurate, fair and honest test experience. Schools notify ACT of their intended test date so ACT can send the appropriate materials to each school based on the information they provide to us. It is unfortunate that in the case of Bearden High School in Knoxville, the test materials ordered by the school – with clear designation regarding the intended test date – were administered on the wrong test date. This resulted in a flawed test event and invalidated the test scores. An invalidated test cannot yield a college reportable score.

When a misadministration like this occurs, ACT takes seriously the concerns of stakeholders about the accuracy and reliability of the ACT test score, due to the possibility of information sharing about specific test questions and answers that may enable some students to have an unfair advantage. An invalid test cannot be translated into a college reportable score, leaving ACT with the difficult but necessary decision to notify students about the situation that occurred through no fault of their own.

ACT is taking several steps to assist students and their families impacted by the misadministration.

We have offered – and are continuing to offer – impacted students an opportunity to retake the ACT test for free during a future ACT national test date. We have been communicating with impacted students and providing them with information about their options. Currently, 294 students impacted by misadministration during the Senior Retake Opportunity have registered for the December national test.

We are aware that some impacted students may be facing college admission or scholarship deadlines and we are working with higher education officials to mitigate any negative impacts on students. In those cases, ACT provides a letter that students may share with colleges confirming that they took the ACT in October 2017 but did not receive scores through no fault of their own.

We deeply regret that students and ACT have been negatively impacted by this misadministration by the school, but we are also mindful of students who could be impacted by the release of scores we cannot validate. There is no ‘win’ in this situation, only our best effort to keep the playing field level by making sure all released scores are the result of a standardized administration.

We look forward to sharing additional detailed information about the situation with you. Meanwhile, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Weeks
Senior Vice President, ACT Client Relations

Scott S. Montgomery
Senior Vice President, ACT Public Affairs