ACT settles class action suit for $16M

ACT Inc. has agreed to a $16 million settlement over a class action lawsuit alleging that it improperly reported students’ disability status to colleges and universities, and excluded certain disabled examinees from a service used by those schools to recruit applicants.

Filed in August 2018 by families in California, Colorado and Nevada, the lawsuit charged Iowa City-based ACT with “unnecessarily seeking to collect information about their disability status at registration for the ACT Test, illegally flagging their test scores, and illegally marketing and selling information about their disabilities to colleges and universities.”

The class action also alleges that students taking part in “special testing” – tests given at schools for students with significant disabilities, as opposed to those taken at ACT-run centers – were excluded from the company’s Educational Opportunity Service (EOS), which is used by schools to find and solicit applicants. Test takers were required to show up at physical testing centers to sign up for EOS, according to plaintiffs.

As part of the settlement in Bloom et al. v. ACT, the company has committed to changing certain practices related to the collection and use of disability-related information, and to allow special testing examinees to enroll in the EOS program. It also includes $16 million to resolve the claims of those who resided or took the test in California.

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 lead plaintiff Halie Bloom after learning of the settlement, according to a statement from her attorneys. “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.”​

ACT does not admit or concede any liability or wrongdoing in the settlement. The class action eventually attracted more than 65,000 members.

“Neither the settlement nor the court found that ACT violated any laws or rights of students with disabilities or privacy rights,” said a statement from ACT, as reported by Inside Higher Ed. “ACT’s mission includes serving underserved populations, including students with disabilities. ACT creates opportunities in education for students with disabilities; this is a longstanding priority for ACT and will continue to be.”

Read the settlement agreement here.