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ACT Submits Victim Impact Statement as Operation Varsity Blues Winds Down

With Wednesday’s sentencing of Joey Chen in one of the final Operation Varsity Blues cases, and other sentencing decisions pending this summer, we are closing a troubling chapter. As part of its victimization in the fraud, ACT was invited to submit a victim impact statement to the court. Below is what was submitted by ACT’s Vice President and General Counsel Michael Clifton on behalf of the students and institutions we serve, who were the true victims in this case.

Thank you for the opportunity to address this Honorable Court with a Victim Impact Statement.

ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization founded in Iowa City, Iowa in 1959, with a mission of helping people achieve education and workplace success. One of our core services is administering the ACT® Test, which is an academic achievement exam taken by millions of high school students each year and used by colleges, universities, and scholarship agencies across the United States to determine student readiness for college from an academic standpoint. The exam is widely recognized as one of the most – if not the most – scientifically sound testing instruments in the world for measuring high school academic achievement.

The millions of students who take the ACT test each year, and the institutions to which students are applying, demand a fair, reliable exam, and ACT is committed to delivering one. For more than 60 years, ACT has built a reputation for fairness in the exam process and trust in its scores. We, along with other leading organizations in the assessment field, have established, attend, and present at annual conferences and seminars dedicated to test security; we participate in the drafting of industry publications on test security best practices; we coordinate with law enforcement around the world in response to significant security threats; and we regularly defend the integrity of our scores through litigation. We invest heavily in these activities to ensure the public’s confidence in the fairness of the exam and trust in our scores remain high.

The defendant’s actions have eroded that trust. And while ACT is, in fact, a victim in this case, the true victims are the millions of students who entrusted ACT with their hard work and dedication. For our students, taking the ACT test and receiving their score is the culmination of months and years of commitment to academic excellence. It’s important because they know it is a valid, reliable measure that they can use for their college-going decision making, understanding what courses they are prepared for, and applying for scholarships. They show up on test day, prepared and committed to doing their best, secure in the knowledge that ACT is doing everything possible to ensure their score will be reported and delivered with integrity. All of the hard work of millions of honest, diligent students was undermined and dishonored when the defendant chose to abuse and mislead the system, and participate in the illegal activities that have brought us here today. Our students were the ones who were most cheated and victimized by the defendant’s dishonest actions, and it is they who are looking to this Court to restore that trust through the sentencing process.

We encourage a strong sentence in this matter to send the message to the defendant – and the millions of students and the institutions with whom we work who put their trust in the integrity of our assessment – that cheating will not be tolerated. That the values of hard work, integrity, and justice will be honored and upheld. That they can trust us – all of us – to protect them and the integrity of the college admissions process.

Thank you, your Honor.