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Aptitude Test Has Some Parents Angry

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HOPKINTON - Hopkinton High School officials had to destroy four aptitude tests taken by junior students last week because some parents were upset that the test was associated with the U.S. military.

Many schools administer the test, called the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery or ASVAB, in order to gauge students'strengths and interests to help guide them with college and career choices. But military officers are present when the test is taken, and the results of the test can be given to military recruiters unless the school specifically requests the results be withheld. Some schools, including Concord High School, have moved away from using the test because of problems associated with the its military connection.

Hopkinton High School Principal Steve Chamberlain said the test results will not be released to military recruiters and will be used only by the guidance department. The school once used a different aptitude test but switched to the military test two years ago because it was more appropriate for high school-aged students and it was free, said Jason Zecha, the school's guidance counselor. The other aptitude test, called the Strong Campbell Interest Inventory, costs $1,200 to $1,500 to administer each year, Zecha said.

Last year, the school sent e-mails to parents who subscribe to the school's e-mail list explaining why they were using the test and that students could opt not to take the test if they felt uncomfortable with it, Chamberlain said. No students opted out, and no parents called.

This year, the school placed the test on its district calendar but did not send an e-mail to inform parents, Chamberlain said. The day after the test was given, two parents called Zecha and asked that their children's tests be destroyed. Two other parents have asked Chamberlain to remove their children's tests from processing.

"The climate is different," Zecha said, adding that some parents are nervous that military forces are overstretched. "There's a lot of wariness and distrust."

But Zecha said the school only wanted the test results to help students choose a career.

"We didn't have any measures of students' skills, of students' aptitudes," he said. When he reviews the results, he said, "I don't think military, I don't think uniform."

Still, problems with the test's military connections have led some schools to move away from using it. All junior students at Concord High School were required to take the test until about five years ago, when a number of students started complaining that they did not want recruiters to contact them, said Jonathan Flower, a guidance counselor at the school. Now, the school uses a different assessment program and allows students to sign up for the military test if they want to take it.

"They were really having a tough time disconnecting that this was a military test," he said. "Instead of making this a battle every year, there are other avenues."

Several military recruiters who were contacted for this story did not return calls for comment.

The military test was developed by the Department of Defense in the 1960s to determine the skills of enlisted or drafted military personnel and what duties they would be best suited to perform. According to the testing program's Web site, the test consists of several parts, including verbal, math, science and technical (electronic and mechanical) sections. The test takes just under three hours to complete, and the scores can be used by the military for two years. Any person wishing to

— Joelle Farrell
Concord Monitor


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