Harvard High School junior Emily Nolen learned earlier this month that the ACT examination she had spent weeks preparing for--and which she hoped would help get her into college--didn't count.
It's not quite the end of the world: she can take the exam on her own at later time. But she would have to pay for it herself, and she wouldn't be able to take the test until September, given that notice of the cancellation was not provided until after the registration deadline for the June ACT.
To ensure all students who take the test do so under the same conditions, a new rule states the ACT exams must begin by 9 a.m., according to Ed Colby, spokesman for the Iowa City-based ACT.
The six disqualified Illinois schools started the exams later than 9 a.m., according to Colby. He would not name the other schools.
This administration of the test was actually part of the Illinois State Board of Education's Prairie State Achievement Exam, the state test that all juniors must take. It goes on for two days, with the first day devoted to the ACT and the second devoted to state-developed exams.
The district is hoping to persuade ACT to reverse their decision:
Harvard School District 50 officials, who asked students to be at school by 9 a.m. and gave them breakfast before starting the exams, have appealed ACT's decision. They also are asking the Illinois State Board of Education to intervene, according to district spokesman Bill Clow.
"Our concern is, let's not punish 136 students," Clow said. "If the school or the administrators of the test made a mistake, fine. But let's not punish the kids."
This is actually quite a cock-up. It's very good of the school to provide breakfast; I know that many do so on ACT day. But the administration guidelines are pretty clear about when to start the test. The spokesman is right: the kids shouldn't be punished for this.