2020 hasn’t exactly been a good year for ACT, Inc., the maker of the ACT exam. In fact, let’s just come out and say it. The year has been a nightmare for the company behind the second most popular college admissions exam. With testing cancelations becoming the new normal and with so many of our nation’s colleges going test-optional this year, it appeared as though things couldn’t get much worse for ACT. As it turns out, it can get worse. ACT, Inc. must now pay out $16 million to California students with disabilities who claimed their rights — as protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act — were violated when ACT flagged their disability status to colleges.
ACT Was Accused of Violating the Americans with Disabilities Act
As Nina Agrawal reports for The Los Angeles Times in a piece entitled “Testing company ACT flagged students’ disabilities to colleges. Now it must pay $16 million,” “A class-action federal lawsuit filed in California in 2018 alleged that ACT violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act by indicating to colleges on students’ score reports whether those students had received special testing accommodations or otherwise indicated they had a disability. The lawsuit also alleged that ACT discriminated against students with disabilities by making it harder for them to participate in a student search service called Educational Opportunity Service, which the company sells to colleges to help them identify potential recruits — and then allowed colleges to filter the data based on disability status. A consent decree announced as part of the settlement prohibits ACT from engaging in any of these practices.”
ACT Isn’t the Only Testing Company That Doesn’t Do Right By Students with Disabilities
Loyal readers of our college admissions blog may remember that way back in 2002, ACT, Inc. was supposed to cease flagging the exams of test-takers who were given extra time due to their disabilities. It was a move that was retroactive to 1999. But apparently, back in 2017, ACT, Inc. started sending this information to colleges again — unbeknownst to students and their parents. And, well, they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Flash-forward to 2020 and ACT, Inc. has settled the 2018 case for a sizable sum. Let’s hope it’s the last time ACT, Inc. is accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. But, hey, it’s not like ACT is the only testing organization that doesn’t do right by students with disabilities. College Board can and must do better, too.
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