ASVAB in the News
Torrington High School leaves it up to students whether to release their results of the military's vocational aptitude test known as the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, or ASVAB for short. It's a decision known as "Option 8" and it is something the high school has done for years. That option could soon become the policy of the school district. - Read More
US pressed on military exam for high school students
Southern California Public Radio, Los Angeles
July 9, 2012
The U.N. has now asked the United States government to provide information on the distribution of details obtained via the ASVAB by November this year.
- Read More
High-stakes testing gets teachers talking
February 29, 2012
Texas loves mandatory testing but teachers are frustrated. "We have benchmarks, TELPAS, MSTAR, PSAT, ASVAB, TAKS retest ... STAAR, STAAR-M, STAAR-Alt, STAAR-L, and assorted others that I'm sure I am forgetting or would like to forget." - Read More
Study Suggests Women Score Low on Tech Aptitude Tests for Lack of Interest
University of Iowa
A recent study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science joins the chorus of leading academics to question the validity of the ASVAB as a predictor of career aptitudes, but the study also provides a compelling argument that the ASVAB has a built-in bias against women. Women perform poorly on a high number of ASVAB test items pertaining to mechanical skills because the questions measure a person's past experience, not their actual potential. Thus, women may be advised against choosing certain occupations because of socially-determined factors rather than a true assessment of their ability to learn and do well in them. - Read More
Military Veterans and Corporate America
Bloomberg Business Week
November 13, 2011
Another author questions the validity of the ASVAB as a career predictor.
"If one starts out in a particular field in the military based on what their ASVAB scores indicate they can do, but after doing that for several years it is clearly not where the individual’s talents and abilities would be best put to use, it is next to impossible to change direction." - Read More
San Diego schools restrict military recruiters
Dec 01, 2010
This military town took steps to protect students from aggressive recruiting practices by military recruiters. The regulations include the selection of ASVAB Option 8. - Read More
TPA High School Military "Opt-Out" Drive
Nov. 17, 2011
A Santa Monica peace group has organized a campaign to distribute forms that allow parents of high school students to "opt out" of the Pentagon's JAMRS database. JAMRS stands for “Joint Advertising Market Research Studies.” The JAMRS database maintains data on 30 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 25 that includes information such as name, date of birth, gender, mailing address, e-mail address, race and ethnicity, telephone number, high school name, graduation date, grade point average (GPA), college intent, military interest, field of study and the ASVAB Test score. - Read More
Maryland 1st to bar schools releasing tests to military
May 13, 2010
Kathleen Miller, the A.P. reporter, accurately reported on this issue.
"A first-of-its-kind law bars public high schools in Maryland from automatically sending student scores on a widely used military aptitude test to recruiters, a practice that critics say was giving the armed forces backdoor access to young people without their parents' consent." - Read More
Looping Parents In On Armed Services Test
National Public Radio
July 30, 2010
NPR's Claudio Sanchez produced a story that was off the mark in several respects:
1) "Whether or not a school official seeks students' or parents' or guardians' permission is entirely up to that school, and we don't have anything to say about that at all," Gilroy says.
This statement is terribly misleading. Gilroy, the Pentagon's top recruiter, realizes the DoD administers the test in schools. - Read More
Students who fail New Jersey's mandatory exit exam are allowed to take the ASVAB and if they score a 31, the minimum score to enter the Army, they're awarded a high school diploma. Scoring a 31 on the ASVAB is roughly equivalent to mastering elementary school. - Read More
Md. law limits military recruitment of high school students
Thursday, April 15, 2010
The Washington Post printed a correction to this article on Maryland’s new ASVAB law. The article incorrectly stated that students could individually withhold ASVAB test results from military recruiters. However, even the correction is misleading. It notes that parents can ask schools to withhold info (Section 9528 No Child Left Behind Act) and strongly implies that that might include ASVAB results and accompanying information. It says students don't have a "direct option" -- they also don't have an indirect option of their parents protecting the info on an opt-out form absent the new law.
Correction to This Article
"This article about a new law in Maryland incorrectly said that students can opt to withhold from military recruiters information from a military and vocational exam. Although parents can separately ask that schools withhold their child's name, address and phone number from military recruiters, students do not have a direct option on the test to withhold information from it, which includes, among other things, their Social Security numbers and test results. The new law requires schools to withhold the test information from recruiters." - Read More
The article erroneously claims, "Earlier in the school year, parents are given the option to remove their students' names from any military lists. If a student's name isn't on that list, the student can sign up for the test without their parents' permission or consent."
Parents are not given the right to remove their students' names from any military lists. The law the article is referring to is Section 9528 of the No Child Left Behind Act, Section 9528(a) and it only covers lists being forwarded to recruiters that contain names, addresses, and phone numbers of children. The No Child Left Behind Act does not cover the release of information gathered through the administration of the ASVAB test. - Read More
The author of this piece, Margaret Barczak, has been affiliated with the military and has it wrong. She writes, "The ASVAB test is exempt from the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects the privacy of student education records. However, students or parents can opt out of the ASVAB reporting provision, and schools receiving funding under the NCLB are instructed to inform parents that they have this option."
The military claims the ASVAB is exempt from FERPA. We don't think so. More importantly, and contrary to the article, students and parents may not opt out of the ASVAB reporting provision. The ASVAB program circumvents NCLB Section 9528 and military regulations make it very clear that schools, not students or parents, select release options. Otherwise, Maryland's legal establishment would not have moved ahead with this legislation. - Read More
The article is a fair representation of the A.P. piece, however, the lengthy Editor's Note is somewhat problematic because it is only distantly related to the ASVAB issue and strikes an alarmist tone. The Pittsburgh case cited in the Editor's Note is an extremely rare example. The reality throughout the country is that military recruiters have unprecedented access to high school children and typically enjoy greater access than that of college recruiters. The focus of the Maryland law is that parents, not the Pentagon, should have control of student information. - Read More
The entire Junior class i a Florida high school are forced to take the ASVAB without parental knowledge and all the results, including sensitive personal data and social secutiry numbers, are forwarded to military recruiters. - Read More
A follow up article is inaccurate on several important points and misrepresents federal law designed to protect student privacy. Read the article and see our rebuttal. - Read More | Read Commentary
Several students report hearing an Army recruiter refer to students as "f*ing faggots" while administering the ASVAB to 500 students during a mandatory testing session in a Colorado public high school. The resulting uproar focuses on the anti-gay slur, not the forced testing of 500. - Read More
Growing Hesitancy Over a Military Test
August 7, 2008
by Dan Hardy and Dylan Purcell
Groundbreaking article by the Philadelphia Inquirer introduces the ASVAB testing controversy to a national audience. The second link features an interactive database released by the Pentagon of 11,900 high schools across the country. -
The following story documents how a small school system in Oregon came to select ASVAB Option 8, disallowing the use of the ASVAB as a recruiting tool. The same decision that has been made by hundreds of school systems across the country. - Read More
This article by David Goodman of Mother Jones Magazine establishes the link between ASVAB testing and the Joint Advertising Market Research & Studies (JAMRS) database, run by the Pentagon. Students who take the ASVAB are required to divulge their Social Security number, ethnicity, and career interests—all of which is then logged into the JAMRS database. The database, run by the credit reporting giant Equifax, holds 34 million names and is arguably the largest repository of 16-25-year-old youth data in the country. - Read More
An excellent article published in the newsmagazine "In These Times" documents how school districts are beginning to keep the results of the ASVAB out of the hands of military recruiters - Read More
This article details how all sophomores and seniors at Yuma HS in Yuma, Arizona were required to take the ASVAB. Although school officials assured parents and the media that test results and private information would not be released to recruiters, Pentagon statistics reveal that the school allowed the release of the sensitive information on 975 students. - Read More
Opting for Privacy
From the National Education Association
This year, thousands of high school students, mostly 11th-graders, will take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), a three-hour test that asks questions about reading, math, electronic and mechanical knowledge, as well as other subjects. The results are processed by the U.S. Department of Defense, as part of its "Career Explorations Program," and typically shared with both schools and military recruiters.
School counselors and administrators encourage students to take the test that many claim assists students in matching their abilities with certain career paths. Pentagon data published by the Philadelphia Inquirer reveals that more than a thousand high schools require students to take the test (2) even though "DOD personnel are prohibited from suggesting to school officials or any other influential individual or group that the test be made mandatory." (3)
The military uses the four-hour exam to gather a treasure-trove of information to use in a sophisticated recruiting program. After the test is administered, military representatives meet with children to discuss their scores and suggest career paths. Later, recruiters make calls to youth, using individualized profiles gathered from test data and other sources.
Federal and state laws strictly monitor the release of student information, but the military manages to circumvent these laws with the administration of the ASVAB. The Family Educational Rights Protection Act, FERPA, and Section 9528 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act ESEA, both contain requirements for opt-out notifications in releases of student information. Parents are given the right to stop their child’s personal information from being released to third parties, but there are no such requirements in the ASVAB student testing program. (4)
Although military regulations allow schools to administer the test while precluding test results from reaching recruiters, few school administrators across the country are aware of the option. In fact, only 8% of the 11,900 schools administering the ASVAB during the 2006-2007 school year took steps to protect the privacy of students taking the test.
U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command (USMEPCOM) Regulation 601-4 identifies several options schools have regarding the administration and release of ASVAB information. These options range from Option 1, which permits test results and other student information to be released to military recruiters without prior consent, to Option 8, which stipulates that the results from the test cannot be used for recruiting purposes. Inaction on the part of a school will cause USMEPCOM to automatically select Option 1. Students and parents may not decide release options.
The release options in Regulation 601.4 correspond to the types of recruiter contact identified in the Pentagon database acquired by the Philadelphia Inquirer. For instance, Option 1 corresponds to "Unlimited Recruiter Contact" while Option 8 corresponds to “No Recruiter Contact.”
In some school districts, like Maryland's Prince George's County Schools, the form supplied by USMEPCOM offered six release options for ASVAB results but failed to list Option 8. (5) That school system immediately took steps to select Option 8.
This summer, the Hawaii Department of Education became the first in the nation to require parental consent to release ASVAB private information and test scores to the military. In the spring of 2009, legislation in Maryland that would have prohibited the automatic release of private information to military recruiters without parental consent passed the Maryland Senate before dying in the Maryland House. Both houses of the California legislature approved a similar measure only to be vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.
(1) Page 6. "USAREC Pamphlet 350-13." Headquarters, United States Army Recruiting Command. Web. 23 Sep 2009 http://www.usarec.army.mil/im/formpub/REC_PUBS/p350_13.pdf
(2) "Military Testing." Philladelphia Inquirer. 08/05/2008. Web. 23 Sep 2009. http://www.philly.com/inquirer/multimedia/26249194.html
(3) Page 3-1. "USMEPCOM Regulation 601-4" United States Military
Entrance Processing Command. 13 Nov 2006. Web. 23 Sep
(4) PDF: "The Los Angeles Unified School District's Current Administration of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Violates NCLB, FERPA, The California Constitution, and California Statutes." The National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles Chapter
(5) PDF: ASVAB Career Exploration Program School Information Form Faxed from Prince George's County Public Schools, Chief of Student Services, Dr. Betty Despenza-Green