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ACT answer sheets missing for 53 students

After an ACT prep course, and hours of study at school and after school, Cameron Sherry, a senior at Chaminade High School in Mineola, voices his frustration upon finding the test he took at Roslyn High School was lost and he will probably never receive his well-earned score.  (Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara)

ACT answer sheets of 53 students who took the exam in October at Roslyn High School are missing, and some affected students in the midst of the college application process are worried that the lack of scores could affect their admissions to universities and colleges.

ACT officials, in a statement Wednesday, told Newsday they are investigating to locate the answer sheets and determine what happened.

“What I can tell you is that we believe we are missing the answer documents for 53 students who tested at Roslyn for the Oct. 22 exam,” said Tarah DeSousa, a spokeswoman for the Iowa City testing service. “We will communicate directly with impacted students as more information becomes available. We regret any inconvenience this has caused to those involved.”

The Roslyn school district, in a statement on Tuesday, said that 258 students took the ACT at the high school on Oct. 22. District officials declined to be interviewed.

ACT, citing students’ confidentiality, said it would not provide the schools that the affected students attend. With both the ACT and the SAT college-admissions tests, students sign up online with the respective testing services and pay fees to take the exams on specific dates, at designated locations.

According to ACT’s website, scores typically are provided in two to eight weeks.

The situation has left several parents and students sending frantic messages to ACT officials, in phone calls and through online chat messages, as they rush to meet application deadlines for individual colleges.

Larry Cohen said his daughter, a 17-year-old senior at Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School, sat for the exam and has not yet received her score. He said he was “irate” to learn that some answer sheets appear to have gone missing.

His daughter already had taken the SAT and the ACT but took the ACT again on Oct. 22 in the hope of getting a higher score to supplement her college applications. She applied “Early Decision” or “Early Action” to seven colleges — many of those deadlines were in November — with plans to apply to six more by the regular application deadline, typically in early January.

The family, concerned when the ACT score did not arrive, got in touch with the testing service after four weeks had passed.

“There was ongoing constant contact with ACT, by phone, by online chat,” Cohen said. “Their ongoing response was, ‘Everything’s fine, we’re within the scoring window, you’ll get the score.’ ”

“This is a very stressful time for all concerned and unfortunately this test, and its score, is the linchpin between getting accepted, and if accepted, getting the proper financial package from a school,” he said.

The ACT, which is administered six times each year, has 215 multiple-choice questions in English, math, reading and science. The exam lasts about three hours, with an additional, optional 40-minute writing test.

Students can take the exam multiple times and designate which universities, colleges and/or scholarship agencies should receive their scores.

“ACT will report ONLY the scores from the test date the student designates, not any other test scores,” DeSousa said. “This ensures that the student directs the reporting of his/her scores.”

Nationwide, about 2.1 million graduates of the Class of 2016 took the ACT — 64 percent of high school graduates, DeSousa said.

The Roslyn district, in its statement Tuesday, said it “has urged the ACT test coordinator to reach out to ACT to find out how it will rectify this situation.”

The district also said it was “informed by the ACT test coordinator that all proper protocols were followed on-site.”

Newsday initially asked ACT about the situation on Tuesday. In an email response that day, DeSousa said, “We are working to determine the exact number of students involved, but most students (including from this test center) have received their scores from the October test date.”

Jeff Kozuch of Roslyn said his daughter, Camryn, 16, a Roslyn High School junior, also still is waiting for her score from that administration of the ACT at Roslyn High.

“She was looking forward to getting a big score and taking pressure off any retests going forward,” Kozuch said. It will be frustrating for her, he said, “if it gets rinsed out and that she’s going to have to start from scratch and get a strong score again.”

“She felt she did really well on the test,” the father said. “To think she did do really well, and it’s not going to count, it’s disappointing.”

He noted that his daughter is not a senior in the heat of a tense admissions process.

“We’re disappointed, but not angry,” he said. “At least my daughter can recover.”

With Candice Ferrette

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