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A Personal Message from ACT CEO, Janet Godwin

 

Dear ACT Community, 

I have heard from many frustrated parents and students over the last few weeks expressing concerns about securing a seat for fall ACT testing, complications with the new MyACT registration system, and an inability to easily access our support team. I fully understand these difficulties have added stress and anxiety to a time already filled with uncertainty, and for that I sincerely apologize.

We have not delivered a customer experience that I am proud of. However, we are continuing to overcome the challenges and volatility of the COVID-19 pandemic so that we can offer testing opportunities for as many students as possible, following CDC and local public health guidelines to promote safety. We’re doing this because we are committed to helping students navigate their college and career pathways. The ACT team is literally working around the clock to address your concerns, and I’d like to share more information about what has occurred and what we’re doing to improve the experience of engaging with ACT going forward.

Test centers and cancellations


COVID-19 has challenged nearly every part of our lives, and testing is no exception. ACT relies on local test sites and staff to host and manage tests for students. As the pandemic surged, we had many cancellations where school boards and public health officials were forced to make hard decisions to close school buildings and testing centers. As those decisions were made and communicated to us, often right up until test day, we attempted to relay those changes to registered students, but our communications were inconsistent, and we did not inform all students in a timely manner. We recognize how disruptive test center closures are, and we are implementing significant communication enhancements to ensure we provide accurate, timely, and actionable information if test centers close for COVID-19 or any other local situation.

MyACT site challenges


For many months (pre COVID-19) we had planned to launch MyACT in July 2020 as an enhanced experience for students to register and view scores. We tested the system at levels four times above any previous high-water mark of student volume and activity. Unfortunately, the site was flooded by extraordinarily high demand for registration after test dates and seat capacity were impacted due to COVID-19. This caused technical issues for users. After briefly launching MyACT the morning of July 27, we were forced to bring the system down and prepare for a relaunch on August 3.

The surge of students trying to register and re-register coupled with the MyACT issues brought about an unprecedented volume of requests coming into our customer care teams. We were not able to handle the deluge of these support requests, and many customers experienced long wait times.

I know this has been extremely frustrating for parents and students. It’s also been extremely frustrating and disheartening to me and the entire ACT team, whose mission is to support students in their efforts to successfully navigate college and career pathways. For weeks, we have been working nonstop to improve the experience of engaging with ACT, and here’s what you can expect from us ahead:

MyACT is open for 2020 and 2021 test date registrations


Please keep in mind, we remain at the mercy of COVID-19 and will keep students' health at the forefront of all decision-making. When testing sites are forced to close, you will receive an email from us notifying you of the closure and providing you with a list of options for re-registration or refund. Instructions will come directly to your email.

July 18 ACT scores


Those of you waiting for test scores from July 18 should expect multiple choice scores to come by August 31, 2020. The first round of scores became available August 5, and another round will be released each week through August 31. The majority of multiple choice scores are released within 2-3 weeks of the test date. Please note that essay scoring and other quality control processes can take up to 8 weeks.

Expanding customer care and communications


We are adding staff to our customer care call center teams, cross training existing staff to help respond to the backlog of messages and streamlining how and when we communicate closures and new test opportunities.

Adding additional test sites in high-demand areas


We’ve been analyzing which states have been hardest hit by COVID-19 test cancellations. In those states, we are working to develop “pop up” test sites that could add as many as 10,000 additional seats on existing national test dates. We are also training ACT team members to deploy as test coordinators if those local teams are unable to serve. Please know that these sites will not necessarily be available in MyACT, as we will hold some capacity for those displaced by future cancellations and closures.

Proactive & ongoing engagement with test sites


We have scaled up our outreach to local test centers and are checking in with them regularly to monitor the likelihood of cancellation. By flagging potential issues early, ACT can help to supply resources to keep a site open that might have otherwise closed. And, where closures happen, we aim to learn of these earlier to communicate options to students.

We’re listening and I’m here for you


I want to reiterate that I understand how difficult this experience has been. ACT is a mission-driven organization founded to help students demonstrate their achievements and open doors of opportunity. When we have missteps in our ability to serve that mission, it hits me to the core. I give you my pledge that we will not rest until we have explored all available options for students to earn an ACT score and to receive throughout a caring, supportive experience.

Many parents and students have reached out to me personally across many channels. The best way to reach me is at my ACT email account: janet.godwin@act.org. If I do not answer your question directly, please know that I forward every question to the appropriate people at ACT to respond to your needs. Please also look for updates on act.org, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. And remember, all cancellation information will be sent directly to you via email.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate these tough and unprecedented times. I can say with certainty that we have learned from the experiences this summer and the last few weeks, and we are improving. We remain committed to our mission and will do everything we can to ensure students have every opportunity to achieve success.

Janet Godwin, CEO 

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