Dec 20, 2015

ACT score reports delayed by excessive humidity

Cornell College located in Mount Vernon, Iowa

Sometimes you just have to laugh. In an application season plagued with reporting snafus caused by faulty technology and some incredibly bad planning, ACT has come up with the most inventive reason yet for scoring delays.

Weather—not blizzards or tornados or torrential downpours as seen in other parts of the country. No, ACT won’t be getting score reports scheduled for December delivery to colleges because of…humidity.

On Friday evening, colleges received an email from ACT indicating that reports scheduled for release on Saturday would be delayed.

“The relatively wet and humid weather has caused issues with our scanning, which is slightly delayed for the December ACT National test event,” writes ACT Customer Care (no name provided). “Your institution could receive fewer scores than expected in the December National AIRO [ACT Internet Reporting Option] cycle….If this should occur, expect to receive larger than normal quantities of scores in subsequent cycles.”

While Iowa may be no stranger to humidity, it hardly ranks up there with Texas, Louisiana, Washington State or Florida for high levels of dampness.  Taking ACT at their word, however, everyone has to assume that this December has been unusual in terms of humidity and that this would affect ACT’s ability to deliver scores on time.  

Earlier in the month, counselors invited to visit Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, woke up to find cars totally encapsulated in ice generated by extra-heavy morning dew—not rain or snow.  Several were seen chipping away with borrowed ice scrappers. Others simply turned up the defroster and waited out the ice event.

The ACT problem with excessive dampness follows a series of similar scoring issues reported by both ACT and SAT. Last week, the College Board told colleges they would be “processing SAT score send orders somewhat less frequently” than in the past and students were advised that PSAT scores would be delayed until January.

Earlier in the fall, both ACT and the College Board increased applicant stress levels by failing to report September and October scores on schedule.  In September, an entire batch of ACT score sheets mysteriously disappeared in route to Iowa from a high school in Annapolis. Those students were quietly rescheduled for the October test. Colleges were asked to accept “screen shots” of scores or scores reported by high schools, when available.  It was a terrible fall for everyone involved.

The weeks leading up to early January deadlines are typically very busy for college application providers, ACT and the College Board as last-minute activity increases based on early admission results or as procrastinating high school students finally wake up and apply to college.  

Hopefully ACT and the College Board will make an extra effort to deliver holiday packages of scores as promised—there should be no chimneys involved and they really shouldn’t wait until the night before Christmas.

In the meantime, who knows what will happen next year with the “redesigned” SAT and the weather in Iowa?  Even Santa will have to wait and see.

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