SAT, ACT Sued for Selling Student Data

By dianeravitch, March 24, 2014

A lawsuit was filed against the SAT and ACT for selling confidential data of students to colleges. Some states mandate that all students must take one of these tests, whether they are college bound or not. Students assume that their names and scores will be shared with colleges to which they apply, but it turns out that far more is disclosed about students, and it is sold, not just shared.

It appears that ACT and SAT are in the data-mining business for their own gain. A lawsuit filed this week contends that the College Board, which runs the SAT, and ACT, Inc., sell identifying information about the hundreds of thousands of teenagers who take the exams each year without the students’ consent. The test companies are “masking the sale” of personal details about the students “under the guise of ‘sharing’” the teens’ information with other agencies, the suit says. It says the companies don’t disclose to students that their personal information will be sold for profit. The companies collect data from test-takers, then sell the teenagers’ names and personal details to colleges. The universities use the information to market themselves to potential students. Across the country, more than 1.6 million students in this year’s high school graduating class — including 101,368 in Pennsylvania and 83,489 in New Jersey — took the SAT. Nearly 1.8 million graduating high school students — including 26,171 in Pennsylvania and 24,202 in New Jersey — took the ACT. The lawsuit says the companies collect details about those students — such as their names, home addresses, birth dates, phone numbers and social security numbers — and sell it at a price of 33 cents per student, per buyer, but “at no time disclosed” to test-takers that their information would be sold “to third parties for monetary gain.”

On its website, the College Board tells students it provides information to educational organizations “looking for students like you” but says the students’ scores, Social Security numbers and phone numbers aren’t given to other parties.

Last month, the College Board increased its fees for student information to 37 cents per name; the ACT now charges 38 cents per name.

See dianeravitch for links


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