Monday, February 17, 2014

Minnesota's Low Achievers Take Military Entrance Test Unwittingly

In Minnesota, new legislation radically changes graduation testing requirements, allowing high school students who fail mandated exit exams to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) as an alternative assessment. According to the Minnesota Department of Education, students simply have to take the ASVAB or one of two other exams to earn a diploma once minimal course requirements are met. There is no specific score required. Of the three tests, the ASVAB is the only one that is free.

Pelican Rapids High School in rural Otter Tail County, Minnesota, requires all juniors and seniors who haven’t passed required graduation tests to take the ASVAB. Military data show that test information at Pelican Rapids is sent to military recruiters without obtaining parental consent. That’s because there are no privacy protections built into Minnesota’s new the law, meaning that many of the lowest achievers throughout the state who take the military entrance exam will have their scores, along with Social Security numbers and detailed demographic information, forwarded to military recruiters – without Mom and Dad’s OK. ASVAB results are the only information about students leaving American schools that does not require parental consent.

The administration of this military test is extraordinarily deceptive. The primary purpose of the ASVAB, according to Section 6-2 of the Army Recruiting Command’s School Recruiting Program Handbook, is to provide military recruiters “with a source of leads of high school juniors and seniors.”
Typically, the ASVAB is promoted in Minnesota’s schools as a career exploration program without revealing its association with the military. For example, this announcement for students at Glencoe-Silver Lake High School fails to explain what the acronym ASVAB stands for or its tie-in to the military. All test results are turned over to recruiters at Glencoe-Silver Lake High School.

Minnesota high school students are greeted with posters that read like this: “Explore your interests. Expand your horizons. Realize your strengths. Realize your dreams. Start opening doors to your future. Participate in the ASVAB Career Exploration Program on (DATE). It’s free! See your counselor to register today.” See ASVAB Snippets. The Pentagon’s marketing to students in the high schools rarely explains what ASVAB stands for and never mentions the primary purpose of the testing regime. Its website looks nothing like a Department of Defense site and buries any mention of the military.

By Pat Elder who is the director of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy, an organization that works to prohibit the automatic release of student information to military recruiting services from the nation’s high schools.

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