Monday, August 2, 2010

Is the sky falling, or is the ASVAB uproar more about improving communication?

@NPR recently reported that Maryland no longer allows schools to administer the ASVAB to a student without parental approval. This legislation also prevents schools from releasing the test results to military recruiters without parents' or students' permission.  The Maryland Coalition to Protect Student Privacy, meanwhile, is advising groups in Wisconsin, Oregon, New Hampshire, Georgia, North Carolina and a few other states to require parents' permission before schools give students the ASVAB or release the results.


Of course parents absolutely have the right to know when their kids are taking the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery in school! They should also know SAT and ACT testing schedules, as well as the Homecoming Game and Prom dates. If that’s not happening, then we parents need to initiate better communication with our schools (or we need to pay attention to those calendars the schools send us).

Now, is ASVAB testing a threat to privacy, personal safety, or anything else regarding our high schoolers? It does not appear to be.  Does its distribution save tax dollars and facilitate a more efficient recruiting process for an all-volunteer force? Perhaps.

It’s not a secret that ASVAB test scores are used to qualify for military service in general, as well as for specific jobs. However, many people don’t realize that ASVAB scores also provide career information for various civilian occupations and can indicate future success in college and vocational schools.

Yes, scores are provided to recruiters – not kidnappers, terrorists, or telemarketers – who may call your home.  Scores are also provided to the students’ schools. Before deciding that picking up the phone and declining a recruiter’s offer is not worth the hassle, consider that we citizens already pick up the tab for our recruiters to find a few needles in stack of needles:

·         Nearly 75% of the 31.2 million 17-24-year-olds in the U.S. are unqualified for military service due to illegal drug use, mental problems, too many dependents, criminal records, and physical and medical issues.


·         35% (about 1/3) of today’s youth ages 17-24 are unfit for military service due to weight and medical issues.


·         This leaves only 7.8 million American youth even eligible to serve their country – if they even want to. A majority of these youth grow up not even knowing that the military is an option, much less whether or not they’d qualify.

Even today, with supportive ASVAB testing and score distribution, our tax dollars finance:

·         The thousands of recruiters we Americans pay to scour this nation and its territories for the young men and women capable and willing to defend it (about 550 Marine Corps recruiters in the 13 Midwestern states alone).


·         The fuel, airline tickets, per diem, lodging, advertising, entry fees for college and job fair booths, and more used to locate and inform interested young Americans about military service.

The more time recruiters waste trying to locate the small percentage of youth who even qualify for military service, the more we pay. Isn't it easier, cheaper, and more efficient to permit our kids to take the test and our schools to provide these scores to recruiters? This way parents know what options are available to their kids, and they can simply tell recruiters "no thank you" if military service is not the right option?

Regarding privacy, it seems to me that more personal data is being collected each day by leading search engines and social media sites than will ever be collected from ASVAB test scores.  Unfortunately, many of these make it business-as-usual to sell that information to the highest bidder.

There are some great, non-evasive resources for parents to review and make informed decisions before supporting legislation that makes it more costly and time-consuming for their military to connect with those young Americans who, in fact, desire to be well-informed about their career options after both high school and college: Official ASVAB Website, About the ASVAB, The ASVAB Exploration Center.

If nothing else, please get the facts before deciding whether or not to support testing and score distribution to recruiters if the issue comes up in your area. Feel free to send us any questions you have, or contact our Midwest Marines recruiting station nearest you.

Posted via email from Midwest Marines


  1. Students can register for the PSAT, ACT and SAT tests without parental consent. Each of the aforementioned tests releases student profile information to post-secondary institutions, based on the decisions students make during registration or administration of the test.

    SAT and ACT scores specifically, have tremendous impact on the future of young people, as they are used by post-secondary institutions to determine student preparedness for higher education. If parental consent is to be required for ASVAB testing, then it should also be required for all other tests that have the potential to significantly impact the availability and access that students have to future educational/career opportunities.

    In my opinion, schools do have a responsibility to inform parents of the importance of ASVAB testing, in the same way that a school would inform parents about the importance of all other testing that a student may elect to participate in.

    The differences between ASVAB testing and an ACT or SAT test may be that the ACT and SAT tests are not necessarily administered during the school day and within a public school building. Does this difference necessitate the requirement of parental consent? Legalities may eventually prove that parental consent is required. But should parental consent be required? I think there is an argument to be made for students making decisions about their future, and acting on those decisions. A student's decision to take the ASVAB may represent an opportunity, an opportunity that a student may rarely have, to exercise self-determination in a way that affects their future.

    And I think that it is important to note that I have never seen an ASVAB score used as a recruiting tool in schools. Score interpretations are not conducted by recruiters. While many students may have questions about how their ASVAB score will affect their choice of military occupations, military occupations have not been the focus of score interpretations.

  2. As a retired serviceman and current vocational instructor I would like to see the ASVAB used as a national high school graduation test. While most standard test ACT,SAT and PSAT check for knowlage, only the ASVAB looks at the application of learning.


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