Test Maker To Pay $16 Million For Divulging Students’ Disabilities
A major standardized test maker has agreed to pay up and alter its practices to settle a class-action lawsuit accusing the company of illegally disclosing information about students’ disabilities.
ACT, Inc. agreed this month to settle a 2018 suit brought by students who claimed that information about their disabilities was included on score reports sent to colleges and that the information was also sold to various entities that do recruitment and marketing as part of the college admissions process.
Under the settlement, which has received preliminary approval from a judge, “ACT has agreed not to resume certain practices related to the collection and use of disability information and the process for enrolling in the Educational Opportunity Service that were the basis of this action,” according to a joint statement released by the parties involved in the litigation.
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The suit filed in federal court in California had alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as multiple California laws. More than 65,000 people were considered class members in the case.
Shortly after the suit was originally filed, ACT said that it was no longer including information about disabilities on score reports sent to colleges.
As part of the settlement, ACT is creating a $16 million fund to pay affected students who live in California or who took the test there as a result of claims made under California law. The fund will also cover attorneys’ fees and the costs of administering the settlement.
“It took a lot of courage for me to stand up publicly for myself and others like me, especially knowing that in our society, test scores are considered a measure of how ‘smart’ someone is,” said Halie Bloom, the lead plaintiff in the case. “I’m honored to be a part of this change that permanently impacts college admissions and recruitment for students with disabilities and gives us the power to decide for ourselves if and how to disclose our own unique stories.”
In the settlement, ACT denies any wrongdoing, but the company said it reached the agreement to avoid the expense and uncertainty of a drawn-out legal fight.
“The changes were made not because the prior practices violated any laws, but rather, as part of a good faith effort to amicably resolve the litigation,” ACT said in a statement. “As always, ACT seeks ways to improve how we serve students, including those with disabilities.”
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