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ACT has agreed to settle a class action suit that charges it with disclosing -- without appropriate permission -- some test takers' disability status to colleges and scholarship organizations.

ACT has not admitted any wrongdoing and says in the agreement that it agreed to settle only to avoid the litigation costs and uncertainty of prolonged litigation.

However, ACT is making real changes in its practices and has agreed to pay $16 million for violations of state law to members of the class who live in California.

FairTest: The National Center for Fair & Open Testing, which monitors lawsuits against testing companies, says that $16 million is the largest settlement ever agreed to by an admissions testing company.

Under the agreement, ACT cannot:

  • Provide any information on score reports for the ACT Test "… which discloses that the examinee received disability-related testing accommodations or that the examinee has a disability (including examinees self-identifying as having a disability)."
  • Use "school" or "national" to "identify the location of an exam administration on score reports for the ACT Test … that would identify whether an individual took the ACT Test by way of national or special testing."
  • Include "any examinee’s answer to any question regarding disabilities on any score report for the ACT Test sent to any covered program, for any test taken in a college-reportable manner."
  • Ask about "an examinee’s disability status during registration."

For years, testing companies resisted the efforts of people with disabilities to get accommodations on standardized tests. Those accommodations are now guaranteed by state and federal law. Since then, much of the fighting over accommodations has been over disclosing them. Advocates for those with disabilities argue that colleges would be less likely to admit someone with disabilities.

Halie Bloom, lead plaintiff (among 65,728 in the class), said in a statement, "It took a lot of courage for me to stand up publicly for myself and others like me, especially knowing that in our society, test scores are considered a measure of how 'smart' someone is. I'm honored to be a part of this change that permanently impacts college admissions and recruitment for students with disabilities and gives us the power to decide for ourselves if and how to disclose our own unique stories."

ACT released this statement: "Neither the settlement nor the court found that ACT violated any laws or rights of students with disabilities or privacy rights. ACT’s mission includes serving underserved populations, including students with disabilities. ACT creates opportunities in education for students with disabilities; this is a longstanding priority for ACT and will continue to be."

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