The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Career Exploration Program, otherwise known as the ASVAB-CEP, or ASVAB, is an admissions and placement test to determine student career interests, strengths, and qualification for the military. The ASVAB is not new. It has been around since 1968. But there are new privacy concerns about the way the test is administered and how the information is used. The Joint Advertising Marketing & Research Services (JAMRS) is the military recruitment data base.
Military recruitment is considered a part of career exploration in America’s public high schools, but if you were worried about the now defunct inBloom, and all the other ways your student’s information can be gathered and put out there, then you should be concerned and want to check out the ASVAB as well.
The No Child Left Behind provision, Section 9528, gives the armed forces access to students by providing a student’s personal information through this assessment. Public schools also receive federal funds for carrying out this provision.
The United States Military Entrance Processing Command administers this test, and the following sensitive information is collected: a student’s date of birth, Social Security number, sex, ethnic group identification, and plans after graduation, as well as areas of academic and extracurricular activities that are of particular interest to the student.
In 1974, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) stood in the way of the Department of Defense (DoD) obtaining such highly personal information, but that is no longer the case. The only way students will not share their information now is if they bubble Option 8 on the test form. If not, their information will go to recruiters and be stored in a DoD, JAMRS database. More about Option 8 in a minute.
Depending on where you live, the application of this assessment runs by loosey goosey rules that lack important clarity. In some places, school administrators might not even know much about the test and what happens with student information. So it is imperative if you are the parent of a high school student to make sure you understand what your school is doing with this assessment and how it is being administered. You might also inform your administrators if they don’t know. Or you can really be an activist on this issue and write to the Pentagon, the PTA and the newspaper. Here is the way to do that.
Or you can opt your child out of the test. There should be no penalty to do so. Some schools provide a form to do this. If not, call the school and find out how to opt your student out of the test. Don’t be intimidated. Here is information on how to do that and how the different states address the ASVAB.
First of all, the test itself should be optional. But it is made a little unclear. It is sold as a valuable instrument to help students sort out their career strengths and interests. Who doesn’t want to better understand their student in high school? I have always felt that high schools don’t do nearly enough to learn what students are interested in during this time period. So this makes the ASVAB appealing. But you don’t need to resort to this test for this information. There are other surveys and assessments you can use.
The test, which can also be administered on the computer (CAT-ASVAB), measures aptitudes in four domains: Verbal, Math, Science, Technical and Spatial.
Broken down further, the assessment specifically covers:
- General Science
- Arithmetic Reasoning
- Word Knowledge
- Paragraph Comprehension
- Mathematics Knowledge
- Electronics Information
- Mechanical Comprehension
- Assembling Objects
Make no mistake, while the test may provide interesting information about the student’s aptitude on these subjects, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is a test given by the DoD to study future military candidates. This in and of itself might not be bad, if you have a student who is interested in eventually joining the military, but they still should be in control of providing the DoD their personal information when they are seriously ready. Some 17 year old students take this test. So if they, or 18 year olds, decide to go through with the assessment, it is still preferable that they bubble in Option 8.
The State of Maryland, Hawaii, and various high schools across the country, might automatically mandate Option 8. A student’s information should be automatically protected there. This allows students and their families to share personal information from the test, with the military, only if and when the student chooses to enlist. But as a parent you need to check if your high school does this. If your student takes the test they should bubble Option 8 in just to be on the safe side if it appears on the test.
In other states it is anyone’s guess how the ASVAB and access to the sensitive information will be treated. It might even be heavily pushed. Some principals and teachers believe it is a display of a student’s patriotism to take the test and they think nothing about protecting a student’s information.
In Minnesota, if students fail the regular high school exit exam, and then take the ASVAB, they can still get a diploma. This targets students who are having difficulties in school, or who just might not be good test takers. And some schools in the State of Missouri actually go out of their way to convince students that they should be comfortable about giving out their information Here.
My personal experience with the ASVAB was that the information and the opt out form were buried in the huge packet of papers sent home the first day of school. Some high school students might fill these things out on their own, or parents might carelessly flip through the information sheets in a hurry to get them completed. My point is the information about the ASVAB might be unintentionally missed. In my case, I was able to opt my child out of the test.
Students also take many tests in school. If the ASVAB is the only test where they receive positive feedback—if scores on other achievement tests are flat—it will be hard not to feel positive about enlisting in the armed services.
Leave My Child Alone is a website providing more information about how to opt out of the high school ASVAB and the national JAMRS. They provide forms that can be freely downloaded, filled out and turned into the high school.
There is much controversy about the wars officially taking place right now and also about the military. Therefore, there is also much debate going on behind the scenes when it comes to the ASVAB and information.
While as a teacher and a mother, I personally hate to see young people go off to be in harm’s way. Still, joining the military can be an incredibly noble, positive and deeply meaningful career for some students. But it is also an intensely personal decision, considering the danger that may be involved, that should be made by the student and their family.
Young students should not be bombarded by slick advertising and marketers. Nor should they make this decision lightly. If you do not want the military to have access to your child’s information, make sure they bubble in Option 8.
Or opt them out of the test entirely.