Wednesday, October 14, 2015

88 ACT Tests Lost by US Postal Service

ACT, SAT, our futures depend, at least partially, on these tests and many students go through hours of studying, stressing, some even going to the lengths of paying for classes to prepare ourselves for these tests. We all know of their importance yet what happens when they get lost? 88 Maryland students had their answer sheets lost, despite being sent first-class in the mail. Although they have been refunded the full price and been given the opportunity to retake the test for free some of the students worry that their results won't be back in time to register for certain scholarships or worry that the added stress will cause them to do worse this time around when retaking the ACT.

A spokesman for an Iowa based testing organization stated that although it occasionally has flaws it is unfair to blame the USPS  because such a thing could happen to any system not just government based, and continues to defend it by stating that the US postal service has been an outstanding service through many years of working with the Iowa testing organization.

We all know the pain of lost/delayed mail. Sometimes this can lead to serious consequences, tax penalties, extra charges, but this seems to be a bit close to home. Do you think the ACT people dealt with the problem well? When can we say it is more than just isolated incident for lost mail? Is the loss of tests due to government bureaucracy's inadequacy? If so what could they do to fix it? Or do you agree with Colby that the government does the best it can and as good a job as anyone would and that no one is immune to mistakes?


Anonymous said...

Of course as high school seniors we all know the urgency of testing for college. One really bad consequence of the lost mail would be if the students' tests that were lost were a really good scores. Also, it is possible that some students were taking the test at the last date possible to submit to a college; therefore, the retest would not help and the students would not be able to apply at some certain colleges. On the other hand, even though the USPS is a federal agency and should be reliable, it is run by normal people and all people make mistakes sometimes. Some mistakes should be excused as long as it does not happen frequently. So, I agree with Colby that the government does the best it can and will make mistakes. I do think the the ACT people dealt with the problem the best they could. It is not necessarily their fault that the mail was lost since they did mail it as they were supposed to.

Teague Bredl said...

At least the title didn't include the word "again." I have no idea how complicated sending mail nationally is, but I don't think this is that ridiculous. It may add more stress to the 88 students but at least it's something sort of replaceable, that doesn't carry that much meaning in the long run. If you look at the ACT's website ( more than 75% of students maintain or increase their composite scores after retaking the test, so odds are it won't really have any adverse effects on the students; even if it did it wouldn't decrease their scores significantly. There is no other solution to compensating the test takers that I think would be better, realistically, you can't just give them a score. As for the studying, I don't think the knowledge will go away, it just sucks for them to sit through the test again for 5 hours.

Danny Halawi said...

As a high school senior, who has taken both the ACT and the SAT twice, I can sympathize with the 88 students whose answer sheets were lost. However, I don't believe that it is the USPS's fault for losing the answer sheets. Historically, USPS has had a good track record with the ACT, and nothing like this has happened before. Over years of safely delivering answer sheets, the USPS should be excused for misplacing 88 answer sheets out of the millions that have been successfully delivered. Mistakes just happen.

When looking at the bright side of this situation, it is not the student's last opportunity to take the ACT, due to the fact that there are still two test dates, one of which will be paid for. If you're applying early action, however, it might be a problem since some schools want all your scores by November 1st. In order for the colleges to help their applicants cope with this problem, I believe that the colleges should sympathize with the students whose scantrons were lost, and allow them to send in their October scores for early admission.

Nevertheless, I don't want to appear like I'm not understanding of the stress and anxiety that comes with having to take the test again. I myself had to go through something similar to what the 88 students went through. For the 2015 June 23rd SAT, there was a misprint on the SAT for the time that was supposed to be given for sections 8 and 9. There was supposed to be 20 minutes given on both sections; however, printed on the test was 25 minutes. This was a huge problem because some proctors realized this error and gave the students 20 minutes, while others did not and gave other students 25 minutes. The College Board tried to make this test fair by not grading sections 8 and 9 for all students, but in actuality, the fact that there was a mistake on this test made it slightly unreliable. A lot of colleges are skeptical as to how accurate the June 23rd SAT because of the misprint and voiding of 2 whole sections, and consequently most students feel the need to take the test again. The College Board offered a free test, like the ACT is doing right now, but I didn't feel like being able to take the October test for free is a good enough compensation for all the stress I had to go through for the June test.

After studying for months for the SAT, I was very frustrated with the sloppiness of the College Board, but truthfully, I realized that things like this just happen. They're simply inevitable. Despite this, companies like the College Board and ACT should rework their system, in order to ensure to the best of their ability that something like this doesn't happen again.

The ACT, in this case, needs to revamp its delivery system. Brian Klam, a parent whose daughter's answer sheet was lost, said that, "It never occurred to me that they would just stick them in the mail." Using USPS, to deliver something as important as ACT answer sheets, can be viewed as rudimentary process. The ACT should try to find a more reliable and safer way to deliver the scantrons. Yes, we can excuse the ACT this time, but if this were to happen again, people are not going to be so forgiving. Overall, in order to make sure this doesn't happen again, a few changes need to be made.