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SD students fear ACT exam issues will affect college admissions

Posted at 5:30 PM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-05 20:30:56-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Local high school students who are trying to take the ACT college admissions exam say that their test dates keep getting canceled because of the pandemic. ABC10 News discovered that some frustrated students are planning to drive or fly to other cities to take the exam in time for college applications.

“It's just been a very unsure time,” said Betsy Mains on Wednesday. Her daughter, Chelsea, is already feeling the stress of starting her senior year at University City High School through a remote learning program. Mains said that’s now compounded by fears associated with getting her ACT test done in time to apply for college. “These tests are required for a lot of the applications and a lot of the scholarships,” she added.

“The communication's just been very poor. They've had to cancel tests. They didn't tell folks they were canceled. Their website crashed,” Michael Coleman told ABC10 News on Wednesday. His daughter, Sam, is about to be a senior at Canyon Crest Academy.

She’s facing a similar challenge. Both students' families say their ACT tests have been canceled and rescheduled multiple times because of a lack of testing sites.

“The first thing that I could find that was remotely possible for her was in December here in San Diego. That’s problematic because the college application process starts before then,” said Coleman. He told ABC10 News that parents have been looking for test sites in other cities.

“I started putting in different zip codes to see if I could find something somewhere else. I eventually did get one in San Bernardino,” said Mains. “I found something in the Magic Mountain area a little sooner than December,” added Coleman.

On Wednesday, the ACT sent ABC10 News the following information:

Summer testing:
In general, COVID-19 severely impacted testing centers’ capacity for spring and summer test dates. We rescheduled our planned April test date to June, and due to the demand and adherence to local and public health guidelines and social distancing requirements, the June and July test dates operated at limited capacity (i.e. limited seats for test-takers). Our teams performed a massive manual outreach campaign to thousands of test site administrators to better understand which sites were open and prepared to administer the test in a COVID-19 environment in line with local public health guidelines, knowing that conditions could change quickly in certain locations where the virus was surging.

Our top priority is to provide testing opportunities for all who wish to pursue a path to college and career. We were able to provide makeup tests in certain locations for those impacted by last-minute cancellations and have added additional test dates [] to our regular national testing schedule this fall. COVID-19 has created many challenges for large-scale testing.We’re working to accommodate the demand and serve our customers, while acknowledging that seat and site capacity is subject to change, due to the changing nature of COVID-19. We’re in the process of adding additional seats to MyACT and encourage students to check back this week as seats in sites across the nation are added.

We know students are in need of scores and we are working hard to accommodate the extreme demand for seats in this unknown environment. We experienced some site degradation on Monday, July 27 due to high user volume and took MyACT down to improve system performance. We reopened the site this Monday, August 3 after automatically registering many class of 2020 and 2021 seniors impacted by summer test cancellations for our September national test dates.

What we're doing for seniors + adding capacity:
The majority of registered test-takers for June and July test dates were class of 2021 seniors. To help those rising seniors—impacted by summer test date cancellations and closures—meet their scholarship and application deadlines, we’re working to provide an accelerated fall registration experience. To the best of our ability, class of 2020 and 2021 seniors impacted by April, June and July cancellations have been placed in seats at sites that are currently open. Some of these students could not be automatically registered for fall test dates but we are doing everything we can to secure additional space for students who will need more options.

In addition to the changes we’ve already made to add more capacity (opening up our Sunday testing to all students and adding new test dates [] in September and October), here are a few more examples of what we’re working on:
• Pop-up sites in areas most affected by cancellations.
• Partnering with commercial testing companies to share their already-existing space within communities.
• Working with state Boards of Regents, colleges, and universities to help them administer “On-Campus Testing” for their students.
• Working with school districts to help them become an ACT test site for their students (these are called unlisted test centers and are not available on MyACT.