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ACT exam retake on Yom Kippur upsets Roslyn High parents

Students in a ninth-grade algebra class on May

Students in a ninth-grade algebra class on May 1, 2013, at Center Moriches High School. Photo Credit: Heather Walsh

Parents of several Roslyn High School students are upset that ACT college admissions officials scheduled an exam retake for their children on Sept. 30 — the date of Yom Kippur’s observance.

The retake date, which parents learned about last Monday, stems from the Sept. 9 administration of the ACT at North Shore High School in Glen Head.

While taking the test that Saturday, students were distracted by loud music that forced the test’s proctors to move students to different parts of the building. Proctors then decided the atmosphere wasn’t ideal for test-taking and gave the students an option to retake the ACT on a different day at no additional charge at North Shore High.

East Hills resident Heather Klein, who has a 15-year-old son at Roslyn High, said she is outraged that ACT would pick Sept. 30 for a retake day.

“It’s the exact same thing as holding this retake on Christmas,” said Klein, who is Jewish. “You have to decide on a test that will determine where you go to college or your religious beliefs? It’s ridiculous.”

Several other Roslyn High parents, who did not want to be named, agreed with Klein, calling the Yom Kippur retake insensitive.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for people of the Jewish faith. This year, it will begin at sunset on Sept. 29 and ends the evening of Sept. 30. During that time, the faithful abstain from eating, drinking and other comforts, and do not engage in creative activities such as writing.

Peter Giarrizzo, superintendent of the North Shore Central School District, confirmed Friday that there was loud music during testing on Sept. 9 and said it came from a private home adjacent to the high school.

“We relocated the students to alternate locations, but the music did not come from anywhere on the [school] property,” Giarrizzo said.

An ACT official on Friday said the company pays close attention to holidays when scheduling test days. However, when the company has to reschedule tests, options are limited because of available testing sites.

“In this particular case, unfortunately, the Yom Kippur test date was the only Saturday that was available for the rescheduled test date,” ACT spokesman Edward Colby said in an email on Friday.

Colby said ACT will offer students affected a new test date at no fee.

“And, we will work with individual students who need to test sooner to see if we can accommodate them,” he said, adding that students affected should contact ACT’s call center.

The next few weeks mark an important test-taking time for high school seniors aspiring for college.

Many times, a student will take the ACT more than once with hopes of raising their score. The test costs $46 with an extra $16.50 for the optional writing section. Students who want to apply to colleges under an Early Decision or Early Action will need ACT exams scored by the first week of November. However, the next regularly scheduled ACT test date is Oct. 28. The company’s website said those who take the test on Oct. 28 could get their scores on Nov. 14.

Klein said her son, Benjamin, took the test on Sept. 9 during the loud music. Benjamin said the room he used to take the ACT was relatively quiet.

“In my room, it wasn’t very audible, but I know that a few of my friends were taking tests and had to be moved,” Benjamin Klein said.

Heather Klein said ACT offering a free test isn’t enough. The company needs to offer a retake sooner at a different school or perhaps on a Sunday.

“It shouldn’t be incumbent upon the students and their families to figure this out,” she said.

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