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ACT Welcomes Meeting with Tennessee Officials

By Scott Montgomery, Senior Vice President, ACT Public Affairs                                                                                                                           

ACT has become aware of Tennessee Lt. Governor Randy McNally’s letter to the Tennessee Comptroller requesting an investigation of ACT and our business practices. While we have not received an official notification from either the Lt. Governor or the Comptroller at this time, ACT welcomes any discussion with our state partners about the importance of college readiness testing and the integrity of ACT and our practices. It is essential that students, educators, colleges and scholarship agencies can trust ACT scores to make the best decisions affecting students’ futures. We look forward to working with the Comptroller.

A recent situation in which ACT scores were invalidated due to misadministrations at two high schools during state testing in Tennessee led to the spreading of a great deal of incorrect information. To help clarify the situation, ACT leaders met with Lt. Gov. McNally, elected state representatives, and local officials to present detailed evidence about the specific incidents and ACT’s resulting actions. The Lt. Governor’s response was disappointing, as he asked that we disregard our rules and policies—the ones that we follow to ensure the validity of ACT scores and keep standardized testing fair for all students.

In response, ACT delivered an open letter to Lt. Gov. McNally on November 30. We also posted a statement from ACT CEO Marten Roorda about the importance of integrity in standardized testing.

In regard to the Lt. Governor’s recent request of the Tennessee Comptroller, ACT can assure all concerned that our organization is fully compliant with our not-for-profit status and that we will cooperate with any inquiries made in this regard.

The Lt. Governor’s letter also asserts: “ACT is selling information about students taking the ACT.” It is no secret that ACT provides student information to colleges, universities and scholarship agencies through our Educational Opportunity Service, a voluntary program to which students must opt in to participate. The program is designed to benefit students by linking them to college and scholarship opportunities.

ACT is committed to the appropriate use, retention and distribution of information obtained through our assessments. We share the public’s concern that assessment data be used properly, and we encourage the appropriate use of assessment information in decision making. ACT’s policy is to provide individually identifiable information to a third party only at the direction of the individual. When authorized by the individual student, ACT provides only selected student information and only to organizations that provide educational, scholarship, career, or financial aid opportunities -- mostly colleges.

ACT operates within a framework of policies and procedures designed to ensure delivery of high-quality programs and services and protect the privacy of the data we collect. We review our programs and services to confirm that they are consistent with the standards expressed in the current versions of the Code of Fair Testing Practices in Education prepared by the Joint Committee on Testing Practices, the Code of Professional Responsibilities in Educational Measurement prepared by the National Council on Measurement in Education, and the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing prepared by the American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, and National Council on Measurement and Education.

We look forward to future discussions with the State Comptroller’s Office on these issues. At the present time, however, ACT is focused on the students we serve in Tennessee and around the globe. We are currently working to expedite the scores of impacted Tennessee 12th graders who retook the ACT for free on Dec. 9, so that we may quickly send them to their selected colleges and universities to successfully meet extended deadlines such as those of the University of Tennessee.