Waiting for the ACT

In New York City and outside St. Louis, students who signed up for the ACT and had been told the test would be given showed up and found no test.

February 16, 2021

The ACT canceled scores of tests Saturday when the high schools or colleges all over the country that were going to be the sites of the testing declined to open. Those cancellations are terribly annoying to students who'd signed up to take the test, but ACT usually tells them about the closures in advance and refunds their testing fees or arranges for a later testing date. ACT told people that this was the case Saturday.

Those frustrations don't compare for someone who stood outside a testing center, in winter weather, for a test that did not take place. That happened Feb. 6, when about 100 students showed up at a high school in the Bronx for an ACT they believed would be given that day. In Missouri, several dozen students who were signed up to take the test at Fontbonne University faced a similar experience, according to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Adam Weyhaupt, the Fontbonne vice president of academic affairs, was contacted to meet with the students.

In both cases, students asked how something like this could happen.

The father of one student told The New York Post that officials at the Bronx high school had no idea there was supposed to be a test given.

“These high school kids were trying to do the right thing to get in college,” the father said. "For the test maker to pull the rug out from under them is unacceptable.”

A mother told the Post, "I have been on the phone for one and a half hours trying to reach someone. A hundred kids are outside the Bronx testing site and no administrator has shown up."

A spokeswomen for the ACT said via email, "Our test center operations team is investigating this situation with test center administrators, and exploring options to provide displaced students with a make-up test later this month. We are sorry for this inconvenience to students and will contact each student with an update when we have more information to share."

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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