Forty Washington students who took the ACTs at the beginning of the summer are scrambling for answers after learning their tests were lost in the mailing process.
“It’s tremendously frustrating,” said Brian Kirk, whose daughter took the four-hour-long college entrance exam on June 8 at Everett’s Mariner High School. “She’s trying not to think about it … This is potentially altering the trajectory of kids’ lives.”
It’s not an isolated incident. Earlier this year, 440 ACT tests from North Carolina also got lost in the shipping process. In 2017, 125 California exams went missing. The year before that, 53 in New York.
Kirk said his daughter, a rising Kamiak High School senior whose first-choice school is Occidental College in Los Angeles, received an email from ACT officials earlier this week, notifying her that the exam she had taken never arrived at the ACT’s scoring center.
ACT spokesman Ed Colby confirmed Thursday that the test coordinator at Mariner mailed the exams back to the organization’s Iowa headquarters through FedEx, but they still haven’t arrived.
“We know what kind of burden this puts on students, and we feel terrible about it,” Colby said. “But we just don’t have a lot of control when a package goes missing en route. We’re doing the best that we can.”
Although the package has a tracking number, FedEx officials are struggling to locate it, he said.
In the meantime, ACT automatically registered all 40 students for the next test date at Mariner in September and refunded their June registration fees, Colby said.
“We won’t stop looking,” Colby said. “We’ll keep pushing as long as we can to try and locate this package. Most of them do come to us eventually, it just depends on when.”
More than 1.9 million U.S. students in the class of 2018 took the ACT during high school, marking a slight decrease since the year before.
Colby said the organization does encourage students who are on a tight application deadline to share the ACT email with their prospective colleges and ask for some leniency.
The University of Washington tries to accommodate students who don’t receive their test scores on time, said UW spokesman Victor Balta. It depends on the date and the individual situation, he said, but the school has made exceptions for students in the past.
Colby said that although his office is working with FedEx to find the tests, he doesn’t know how long the process will take.
“I’d like for there to be some sort of accountability,” Kirk said. “The ACT should have to be a little more transparent.”