Thursday, August 7, 2008

New report lists schools using ASVAB test

ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) testing is in the news. The test, which is required for military enlistees, is also administered in many high schools around the country, especially in rural areas. Sold to schools as a vocational guide to students, the test is actually a recruiting tool used to ascertain student contact information that is often used to pressure students into enlistment.

Here in Austin, the Austin Independent School District adopted a policy regarding military recruitment in the high schools that specifically states that any ASVAB testing is only to be administered as a voluntary test, and not to be presented as mandatory. The district also adopted a clear "opt-out" measure that allows parents and guardians to sign a form early in the school year that either gives or withholds permission for their contact information to be given to military recruiters. Schools risk violating student privacy if they allow the ASVAB to be administered without being sure that all students who take the ASVAB have permission for their contact information to be released to the military.

A new report allows anyone to check which schools in the country are using the ASVAB, how many students took the test in the 2006-07 school year and whether the test was mandatory. The list of Texas schools is long and is especially weighted toward rural districts. The only school in AISD that is reported as using ASVAB in 06-07 was Anderson HS. Schools listed in nearby districts were McNeil HS in Round Rock and Lake Travis HS. The number of students listed as having taken the ASVAB at Lake Travis (187) suggests the test was given as mandatory, even though it wasn't listed as such.

Because of student privacy rights issues, school districts are coming under more scrutiny from parents and others who are tired of intensive recruiting methods used in high schools. Schools in Washington DC, for example, decided in the past year to ban ASVAB testing altogether.

Because of students' privacy rights and their already heavy load of tests in the public schools, banning ASVAB is a sensible option.

Here's a notice from Pat Elder, active with the National Network Opposing Militarization of Youth.

This morning [Wednesday, August 6], the Philadelphia Inquirer published an investigative piece on the ASVAB, culminating a year-long project. The article is accompanied by a database that reporter Dan Hardy received after filing a Freedom of Information Act Request with the U.S. Military EntranceProcessing Command. The searchable database
contains a listof EVERY high school in the nation that administered the ASVAB in 2006-07 with information on how many students took the test, whether the test is mandatory, and whether the results are given to the military.

The release of the database substantiates much of the research we've done on the ASVAB, particularly the pervasive practice of mandatory testing. Please take a moment to search for your local high school. If your school shows up on the database and military recruiters have access to test results, please take a moment to send an email to your principal, superintendent, and/or school board to demand they take steps to protect student privacy. You can use the sample ASVAB letter here:

1 comment:

marshall said...

Last year, the ASVAB test WAS given to Travis High Seniors. Two Navy recruiters, as well as an administrator, gave the test. Several teachers informed the students prior that the test was not mandatory.
When nearly half of the students in the theater respectfully, and awesomely, declined to take the test, the recruiters and administratore admonished the kids and told them how shameful their actions were. I, however, was one proud Rebel teacher!