ACT Score Confidentiality

ACT Policies on Score Confidentiality

Registration for any ACT assessment requires agreement to the organization's privacy policy, which is viewable on the ACT website. Two types of data are collected by ACT: personally identifying information and non-personally identifying information. Examples of the former type include name, address, date of birth, and citizenship, some of which test-takers are required to submit and some of which are optional. Non-personally identifying information is typically either associated with tracking website traffic (such as IP address) or statistical data that cannot be linked to specific individuals. ACT test scores can fall into either category, but students have significant control over score reports that have their names attached. According to the privacy policy, "ACT will not sell or disclose personally identifying information . . . except as consistent with [test-taker] choices." This means that ACT will only reveal identifiable student test scores to individuals or organizations that the student has authorized to receive those scores (colleges, potential employers, scholarship agencies, or other entities designated by the test-taker). For some ACT administrations, the organization retains scores indefinitely and will not delete them at the request of the student. Test-takers can assume that their scores will be used (without their names) for research and statistical analysis.

Relevant Federal and State Laws on Privacy for Education Records

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy ACT (FERPA) protects education records from unauthorized disclosure by schools and other educational organizations. Scores for standardized tests (such as the ACT) are considered education records under the law. There are some limited circumstances under which education records may be involuntarily disclosed, but FERPA gives students and parents a high level of control over the distribution of these records (for students aged 18 and over, even their parents cannot access education records without permission). College testing organizations such as ACT are generally not regulated by state or federal authorities, but New York and California have enacted laws that prevent any testing outfit from disclosing scores without first obtaining the consent of the test-taker.

Sending and Receiving ACT Scores

The ACT registration process allows students to specify where they would like their scores sent. Test-takers may add organizations to the list at any point before or after the test. Four score reports (plus one each for the student and his or her high school) are included with the registration fee, and any that exceed this number are referred to as "Additional Score Reports." The fee for regular delivery of Additional Score Reports (about two weeks) is $13 per report, while priority delivery (3-4 days) costs $16.50 per report. Students may not send their ACT scores directly to specific individuals at colleges or universities; reports are delivered only to the office officially sanctioned by ACT for this purpose. Some testing organizations automatically report scores for all test attempts, but ACT will send scores only for the individual test date chosen by the student. Electronic score reporting is available for institutions, and these reports are sent in encrypted CD-ROM format. Before receiving scores electronically, schools must sign a form agreeing to keep all of this information secure and confidential.

ACT Supplier Code of Conduct and Score Confidentiality

Outside organizations that do business with ACT sometimes gain access to private student information, and there is an ACT confidentiality policy in place for these entities. The ACT Supplier Code of Conduct applies to ACT contractors, subcontractors, vendors, distributors, partners, agents, and consultants, all of whom are required to "maintain the confidentiality and security of ACT confidential information" and "comply with ACT policies and legal requirements regarding the collection, protection, use, transfer, and disclosure of confidential information." Failure to adhere to this policy may result in termination of the entity's business relationship with the ACT organization.

ACT Score Confidentiality Policies and Testing under Special Circumstances

ACT score and other student information confidentiality policies are in force regardless of whether or not a student tests under normal circumstances (e.g. national test dates). The same privacy rules, regulations, and laws are applicable if a student sits for the ACT under arranged testing (typically for those who have religious objections to taking the ACT on a Saturday) or accommodated testing (for students with disabilities that affect their ability to take the ACT under regular conditions).

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