ACT and SAT test taker’s information sold

All Wisconsin juniors are now mandated to take the ACT, but when filling out personal information, many do not know where their personal information is going.

“I literally have no idea [where the information goes],” said junior Jennifer Taylor.

While some students may not know where the information goes, others believe it is given to just the ACT company itself.

“I’m sure just the ACT company keeps it [the information],” said junior Zachary Severson.

When the ACT has personal information, there seems to be no problem, but problems start to arise when said information is sold to those out of the company itself.

According to Philly.com, in 2013 a lawsuit was filed in Illinois suing the College Board and ACT for selling personal information to colleges without letting students know that their information would be sold.

The next question that comes to mind is: how much money do these companies make?

In 2013, the lawsuit alleged that both companies were charging organizations 33 cents per name to access the student data. Currently, both ACT and College Board charge 38 cents per name.

While 33-38 cents may not seem like a lot, the cents start to add up quickly.

The College Board database has about 7.5 million students and the ACT database has two databases. One for the PLAN test, which is taken by sophomores and another for the ACT, which is taken by juniors. The PLAN test has a database of about 1.25 million students and the ACT has a database of about 1.8 million students. Together they have a database of about 3.05 million students.

So if colleges are paying this much for information, what are they doing with it?

Through the College Board’s Student Search Service, test takers opt in for information sharing. These colleges can then use the database to look at data and search for prospective students according criteria like ethnicity, financial aid plans and high school academic performance.

The College Board says their Student Search Service is a service to help connect students and colleges. They say no commercial entities are allowed to see information and most of all it comes at no cost to the student. All they have to do is opt in.

The ACT’s equivalent to the Student Search Service, the ACT Education Opportunity Service, works similarly.

On the ACT’s website they say that their Education Opportunity Service is a free service that ACT takers opt in for. The service can help students to learn about college scholarships, education programs, careers, and financial aid. The service releases: name, address, gender, high school, email, date of birth, year of high school graduation, racial/ethnic background, intended college major, and occupational choice.

When Taylor and  Bluedorn were informed of this information, they were surprised.

“It’s pretty crazy. I don’t know how I feel about that,” said Taylor

Junior Bradley Bluedorn felt similarly.

“That’s scary,” said Bluedorn.

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EEF grant makes sound booth possible

Educational Enrichment Foundation presented high school business teacher and virtual school coordinator Mary Byrns with $2,017.94 grant April 1. Byrns and high school technical education teacher Andrew Richard are teaming up to create a lab for students to use throughout the day as a quiet study room.

“The lab will be used for virtual school students who need a quiet place to take tests, study and practice language skills. Other students and teachers in the school can use it if they want to do a screencast or have a quiet place to study,” said Byrns.

In the lab, there will also be a sound booth for virtual students to use if they need a quiet place to do screencasts and language recordings.

“The construction class is going to build [the sound booth], which is kind of nice so the students will get the experience, and we’ll also save money that way,” said Byrns.

While Byrns and some of her students will pick out comfortable furniture for students to do work and study in, Richard and his construction class are building a sound booth that will go in the lab room.

“We are creating a booth where students can have video conferencing with a different school. So just a fully quiet area with a window, door, drywall and insulated,” said Richard.

The room will be completed by the winter of 2015. Although the construction will not start until the 2015-2016 school year, Richard says that they have already started preparations. “We’ve done the full estimate with different materials for the installation,” said Richard.

Byrns says that she decided to use the money for a lab and sound booth based on feedback from students. Senior Taylor Inches has been one of those students. Inches has been working with Byrns since October of 2014 to make this lab happen.

“I went to Mrs. Byrns and we brainstormed ideas of how we could make this work,” said Inches. “Once we decided what would go in the new lab, I made a floor plan and presented the information to Mr. Chambers.”

Both Byrns and Richard agree that this will be a great experience for all students.

“The kids will get a hands-on experience of constructing interior finished work, which is something we haven’t worked a lot with,” said Richard.

“This new booth will help students with education. They’ll do work at school, get it done and it will serve as a quiet place. We need more quiet spaces,” said Byrns.

Byrns’s hopes for the lab is that students and teachers will take advantage of this space as a quiet room to study in and complete work.