Sharon Fingold’s family lives in Los Altos, but by the time her son registered for the June 12 ACT, the only testing center available was McClymonds High School in West Oakland.
Fingold figured the administration of the college entrance exam at McClymonds would be no different than it was for the SATs and ACTs her children had taken in more affluent areas, such as Los Altos and Palo Alto. Afterward, she was so concerned about what her son and other students experienced that she wrote me (and the ACT) about it.
She outlined the problems in greater detail, but here’s how she summarized what happened:
When we picked him up after the testing, we learned that the testing started 1 hour late, the proctor refused to post start and end times for each section of the test, and the proctor cut off each section of the test 5 minutes early.
I’m concerned that the ACT organization doesn’t ensure fair treatment for all students and that because the test site was in a poor part of town the students who take the test at that school are not getting the same quality of test administration. If they lose 5 minutes on each section of the test, then they have less opportunity to perform as well on each section as students who get the full allotted time.
I forwarded Fingold’s letter to Troy Flint, the Oakland school district spokesman, who asked people at the school for answers. LuPaulette Taylor, a McClymonds teacher who served as the test site coordinator, responded that three proctors were no-shows and that the test started late as a result. She didn’t address the assertion that one proctor refused to write the end times on the board, despite numerous student requests, saying only that “Most rooms had the times listed on the board, if a board was in the room.”
Taylor did confirm that the students — at least, in Fingold’s son’s room, which had a first-time proctor — weren’t given the full amount of time to complete the test. “… after review of the time for the last multiple choice test in Room 200, the proctor did short the test by five minutes,” she wrote. “I have notified ACT of this irregularity. They will decide what should happen. ”
After acknowledging errors that might have cost students points on the test, Taylor concluded her e-mail by defending the integrity of the testing at Mack: “I have been involved in the ACT administration at McClymonds for at least fifteen years and our procedures have been in compliance with ACT guidelines,” she wrote. “I have also visited and assisted SAT sites in Oakland and our procedures at McClymonds have ensured that students have been in a secure, fair, and compliant testing center.”
Here is the automated response Fingold received from the ACT:
If you feel that your performance on the ACT Assessment was negatively affected by something that occurred on test day, and you wish to take the ACT again, please contact our Registration Department in mid-July to register for the test date of your choice. Do not wait for your complaint or concern to be resolved. A resolution may not be possible by the close of the registration deadlines for the next test date. If you have requested your test scores to be sent to colleges please note that you may not receive a response in the time frame allowed to cancel those scores. If you would like to cancel your score report choices to await the outcome, please login to your student web account or call ACT Registration, M-F, 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Central time at 319/-337-1270. The deadline to do so is the Thursday after the test date by 12:00 PM, Central Time.
If you wish to register, you should make the necessary arrangements (by phone, paper folder, or web registration) and pay the required fee before the registration deadlines pass. If the registration deadlines for your chosen test date have already passed, standby testing may be an alternative method for you to test (see page 5 of Registering for the ACT Assessment in one of our registration packets or visit our website at www.act.org).
If our investigation of your concern determines that a free test is warranted, you will be contacted (in writing) with the options available to you. If you have already paid a registration fee for a future test, you will be able to apply any available refund or free test options toward that fee.