U.S. Naval Academy Challenged Over Misuse of SAT/ACT Exams; Minimum Score Requirement Violates Test Use Guidelines

for further information:
Christina Perez (857) 350-8207
Bob Schaeffer (941) 395-6773


for immediate release, Thursday, July 25, 2002


The U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, violates national guidelines for proper test score use by requiring high school students to meet minimum SAT or ACT score requirements before an application will be considered. This policy "may discriminate against qualified women, applicants of color, and other candidates whose potential is not accurately assessed by standardized exams," according to a National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) letter delivered today to Naval Academy officials, Members of Congress who sit on the Annapolis Board of Visitors, and leaders of major college admissions associations.

FairTest quoted a Naval Academy letter to a prospective applicant listing specific SAT and ACT scores as "the minimum levels needed to receive an application." Guidelines published by the College Board, the SAT's sponsor, cited by FairTest tell colleges to, "Guard against using minimum test scores unless used in conjunction with secondary school performance and unless properly validated." ACT, Incorporated also cautions against using scores from its test without proper validation or as the sole factor to make decisions about college applicants. A Freedom of Information Act request from FairTest produced a written Naval Academy response admitting, "There are no recent validity studies that have been conducted in the last ten years."
Christina Perez, FairTest's University Testing Reform Advocate, explained, "Improper testing requirements, such as the arbitrary 'cut-off score' used by the Naval Academy, create particularly unfair barriers of access for women and applicants of color because of the tests' biases and inaccuracy. New SAT, old SAT, or ACT the problems with score misuse have never been addressed by the test-makers."

A copy of the FairTest letter to the Naval Academy was also sent to the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) whose Statement of Principles of Good Practices reads, "College and University Members agree that they . . . will use test scores and related data discretely and for purposes that are appropriate and validated . . . [and] will refrain from using minimum test scores as the sole criterion for admissions, thereby denying certain students because of small differences in scores." The U.S. Naval Academy is a NACAC member institution.

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See the letter sent to the academy