The ACT organization discontinued the practice of sharing student information about their disabilities with colleges who purchase student profile information, according to an article in Inside Higher Ed by Scott Jaschik.

Back at the end of August, we shared a post about the fact that the ACT test includes questions about a student’s disabilities.  They are among various demographic questions asked to form a student profile.  Students respond voluntarily, but advocates for students with disabilities felt the questions were improper.

Information Sold To Colleges Contained Information About Disabilities Volunteered by Students

ACT sells the student profile information they gather to colleges.  Advocates for students with disabilities filed a lawsuit against ACT based on the potential for discrimination.  It argues that students may not understand what they are consenting to and how the information will be used. The lawsuit is still in process.

In addition, many states now require all students to take an ACT or SAT during high school.  Because the test is mandatory, there are different privacy issues surrounding the tests.

Colleges purchase lists of students from ACT and the College Board, which provides the SAT test.  Previously, the student profile information gathered voluntarily included questions about disabilities.  The College Board does not include any information about disabilities in the student profile information it sells.  The ACT did, until early October.

ACT Comment on the Decision

ACT spokesman Ed Colby said in an email to Inside Higher Ed that “ACT had determined that it will no longer include voluntary, self-reported information about students’ disabilities in ACT college reporting. While this information is valued and used by colleges to help students succeed, and while we believe it is nondiscriminatory and lawful, ACT respects student privacy.”

Information about non-standard testing (e.g. extended time or having a test read to a student) to accommodate a student’s disability has long been considered potentially discriminatory under the Americans with Disabilities Act. ACT has not shared information of this nature with colleges since 2003.

Going forward, students will still be asked optional questions to form a student profile.  Any response related to a disability will not be shared with colleges.

At Knowledge Edge, we assist students with many types of disabilities in their preparation for the ACT.  For more information about ACT prep at Knowledge Edge, visit our website or call us at 262-238-8867.