Upcoming ACT Test Security and Identification Enhancements


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Upcoming ACT Test Security and Identification Enhancements

  1. 1. Upcoming ACT Test Security and Identification EnhancementsACT, Inc.—a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success—has announcednew safeguards that will further ensure ACT score integrity and meet students in the advanced technological world in which they livetoday. The organization will implement enhanced test registration and administration requirements for the ACT ® test sometimeduring the upcoming 2012–2013 testing year, which runs September 2012 to June 2013.ACT is committed to providing students a fair and equal opportunity to demonstrate their independent academic achievement, andwe review preventive measures on an ongoing basis to ensure every reasonable effort is made to deter and detect potentialcompromises to test security while still enabling the greatest possible access for students. The new procedures are a part of thisongoing effort.The following enhancements will safeguard a level playing field for all test takers and help ensure the continued integrity of ACTscore results:  Students will upload or otherwise submit (via ACT website, smart phone, or mail) a recognizable head-and- shoulders photo of themselves at the time they register—online or by mail—for the ACT.  The photo will be printed on the students ticket, which the student will be required to bring to the test center. Students who fail to bring their ticket will not be admitted to the test.  The students photo will also be printed on the examinee roster that testing staff use to check in students on test day.  In addition to their ticket, students will be required to bring and present an acceptable photo ID on test day.  On test day, test center staff will match the name and photo on the student’s admission ticket, the examinee roster, and the student’s photo ID to the student who arrives to take the test before granting the student admission. Test center staff may also check the student’s identification throughout the test session.  In addition to submitting a photo, students will provide ACT with their gender and with the name of the high school they attend. ACT will use this information to help match the examinee’s identity throughout the testing process.  Both before and after testing, students will provide written affirmation that they are the person whose name appears on the test booklet and answer sheet which they have submitted. They will also acknowledge that assuming anyone else’s identity to take the test may be a violation of law and be subject to legal penalty.  ACT may visit test centers to conduct enhanced test security procedures on test day, including collecting images of examinees during check-in and/or other security activities. (** Updated 30 May 2012 **)  After tests have been scored, the student’s photo will be printed on the score report that will be automatically sent to the high school attended by the student. Score integrity can then be reinforced by the people who know the students best—the teachers and counselors at their schools.  To deter attempts to circumvent these procedures, students (including those who hope to test on a standby basis) will be required to register their intent to test and will not be allowed to make any test center or test date changes on the day of the test.
  2. 2. ACT—like the vast majority of students—understands the importance of honest test scores. We also know the importance ofensuring that students maintain access to the educational opportunities which the ACT test provides. Our enhanced procedures willhelp us continue to achieve both objectives.ACT continues to work out the operational details of the new test security protocols. As we finalize these details over the comingmonths, we will provide updated information about these procedures to students, parents, and the general public through ourwebsites—actstudent.org and act.org—and to educators and testing staff through normal communication channels.Frequently Asked QuestionsQ. When will these test procedure changes take place?A. We will launch these changes sometime during the upcoming testing year, which runs from September 2012 through June 2013.ACT anticipates announcing additional information concerning the enhancements in July. We plan to roll out these changes afterschools are back in session in a way that allows educators, students and parents to be prepared for them.Q. Will these changes increase the cost of taking the ACT?A. No. The costs incurred by these changes will not be passed along to test takers. As a not-for-profit organization, ACT iscommitted to keeping costs to students as low as possible. We are reinvesting our own reserves to pay for the enhancements. Testregistration fees typically rise slightly from year to year due to increases in costs associated with producing, distributing, and scoringthe tests, but those increases will not be affected by the new registration procedures.Q. What will ACT do with the examinee’s photo?A. ACT will use the photo during the testing process for enhanced identity matching purposes. Testing staff will have the photoprinted on their test day roster so they know who to expect to arrive for testing. High schools will receive the photo with theexaminee’s score report, so they can reinforce the identity match after testing.Q. What will be done with the photos after ACT has used them?A. ACT will keep the photos in a secure, encrypted database to which only we will have access. ACT will retain the photos for aperiod of time consistent with active use of test scores and test security needs. The photos will not be used for any purpose otherthan for identity matching.Q. Will student photos be included in score reports sent to colleges for admission purposes?A. No. ACT does not plan to include photos with score reports sent to colleges at this time. The student photos will be printed onscore reports sent to the high school attended by the examinee, not to colleges.
  3. 3. Q. Will these changes also be made for students who take the ACT internationally?A. ACT will implement the new registration requirements overseas as appropriate. We are currently working out the details of ourimplementation plan and cannot give a specific date when these changes will be implemented internationally.Q. Will these changes also be made for students who take the ACT as part of required state- or district-administeredtesting on a school day?A. The new registration requirements will not apply to students who take the ACT as part of required statewide or district-widetesting. In those cases, students do not pre-register for the ACT, and the test is administered in the classroom by the students’teachers. Many other test security measures are in place for these types of testing.Q. Will these changes also be made for students who take the ACT at a college or university campus through residualtesting?A. No, the new registration requirements will not apply to residual testing at this time. Students do not pre-register for residualtesting.Q. Will these changes mean that students will no longer be able to take the test on a standby basis?A. Standby testing will still be an option, but changes will be made in that process as well. Students will no longer be able to simplyshow up on test day and take the ACT. They will need to register their intent to test on a standby basis ahead of time, most likely bythe Wednesday before the test date. Standby test takers will be required to follow the same procedures as all other test takers,including providing a photo to ACT prior to test day and presenting a standby ticket that includes that photo.Q. Students will have to present a photo ID on test day in addition to the photo that will be printed on their admissionticket. What types of photo IDs will students be allowed to use?A. Types of IDs that will be accepted on test day are a government-issued photo ID (such as a driver’s license or passport), a schoolidentification card or letter that includes the student’s photo, or a notarized statement with a photo of the student. All IDs must be inEnglish.Q. What about students who don’t have a photo of themselves or don’t have the ability or capability to upload a photo?Won’t these changes prevent them from taking the ACT?A. Student access to the test is of prime importance to ACT. We are committed to making certain that student access is not undulyhampered by these changes. ACT, a leader in educational research, has conducted extensive student surveys to understand thevarious methods available for students to provide a photo to ACT during registration. We are developing solutions to accommodatethose methods, and we fully intend to give students the help they need to provide a photo, particularly in the initial implementationphase.Q. Do the upcoming changes mean that all students will now have to register online, instead of by mail?A. No. Students will still be allowed to register by filling out the paper registration form by hand and mailing it to ACT (although the
  4. 4. vast majority of students now register online). We will provide instructions on how to provide a photo with the paper registration asdetails for those processes are finalized.Q. Will high schools be required to check the photos on students’ ACT score reports to verify the students’ identity?A. High schools will be encouraged to check the photos on student score reports and to report any concerns regarding a student’sidentity to ACT.Q. Do high schools currently receive score reports for each of their enrolled students who take the ACT?A. ACT currently sends students’ score reports to their high school only if the students voluntarily authorize us to do so. (Currently,more than 90% of students release their scores to their high schools.) When the new procedures are in place, students’ scorereports will be sent to their high school automatically; students will no longer have an option to withhold their scores.Q. Does ACT plan to add more test center staff to handle the changes on test day?A. ACT will work with test centers to ensure that the new test day procedures run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. We don’tanticipate that additional staff will be required.Q. Will ACT test center staff be trained on the new requirements?A. Yes. ACT will implement additional enhanced online training sessions for testing staff that will focus on the new test dayprocedures.Q. What would prevent a student from uploading someone else’s photo when they register and then having that sameperson show up on test day with a fake ID?A. We recognize that we can’t entirely prevent this scenario from occurring. However, we anticipate that sending score reports thatinclude student photos to high schools will discourage students from attempting such a deception—and make it easier to catch themif and when they do. The new procedures will make successfully impersonating another student much more difficult.Q. Why did ACT decide to make these changes?A. These new enhancements were designed to improve our ability to detect and deter impersonation attempts, where an individualengages a surrogate to take the test in his or her place. Test security is a vital concern for ACT, and we are constantly looking forways to improve our procedures. Our goal has always been to safeguard a level playing field and give every student who takes theACT a fair opportunity to demonstrate his or her own academic achievement. (** Updated 30 May 2012 **)Q. Did ACT make these changes in reaction to the situation in Long Island, New York, where an impersonation ring wasdiscovered and students involved in the ring were arrested?A. We have long had security procedures in place to help detect incidences of surrogate test takers, and we believe thoseprocedures have been effective in exposing such cases. But advancing technology requires us to be constantly vigilant in oursecurity efforts. Subsequent to the Long Island case, ACT established a specific task force to study the issue and identify potential
  5. 5. ways to improve our procedures without unduly limiting access to the exam. The enhancements that we have announced grew outof the work of that task force. (** Updated 30 May 2012 **)Q. Why is this the best solution to deter impersonation attempts and improve test security?A. The enhancements we have announced will provide additional layers of test security to help deter and detect impersonationattempts. We will incorporate technology familiar to young people without unduly limiting access to the test and the benefits itprovides. And these enhancements will lay the groundwork for future test security procedures, as technology advances further. (**Updated 30 May 2012 **)