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Pentagon Data on Student Testing Program Rife with Errors and Contradictions

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Once the test is administered and scored, the recruiting command sends recruiters to the schools after the tests are scored to discuss "career paths" with students.

The military has done a tremendous job marketing the program in high schools across the country.   American high schools are blanketed with posters and announcements that read like this: "Explore your interests. Expand your horizons. Realize your strengths. Realize your dreams. Start opening doors to your future. Participate in the ASVAB Career Exploration Program on (DATE). It's free! See your counselor to register today."  See ASVAB Snippets.   The Pentagon's marketing to students in the high schools never explains what "ASVAB" stands for and never mentions the primary purpose of the testing regime, which is to procure leads for recruiters. Its website, looks nothing like a DoD site and buries any mention of the military.

Do huge numbers voluntarily take the test?

The database purports to reflect the number of schools and students that participate in mandatory testing but there are several problems with its accuracy.

The ASVAB provides the first, massive, national litmus test for enlistment.  Consider five schools in the Miami area. North Miami Beach HS tested 855. It has a minority population of 96%..  Coral Gables HS tested 695 with a minority population of 90%.   Coral Park HS had 429 take the test. It has a minority population of  96% Miami Central High School tested 645 and Miami Northwestern HS sat down 642. Both have minority populations of 99%.  None of these five schools are listed in the DoD database as having "mandatory" testing and there's no evidence online that students were required to take the test.


A web search of seven Michigan high schools listed in the newly released data as "Not Mandatory" clearly shows that students are required to take the ASVAB.  Pickford, Watersmeet, Goodrich, Manistique Lake Linden, Rapid River, and Ironwood High Schools all force students to take the test.

Munford High School in Munford Tennessee tested 855 but is listed in the database as not mandatory.  Perhaps patriotism is rampant in Munford, but how, exactly, do they manage to get 855 teenagers to voluntarily sit for three hours to take a military exam?

Scranton High School in Arkansas is listed as being mandatory for all grades but only 11 students took the test, according to the data.  Scranton has a total enrollment of 181.  It begs the question: Just how many students are required to take the test in Arkansas? Last year the state led the nation with more than 10,000 students being forced to take the ASVAB. After a robust email campaign to school officials, that number has dropped to 7,333 although 140 schools still require students to take the test.  (That's an average of 52 per school.)  One school counselor explained that the test has always been required and no one had ever complained. Certainly there have been no complaints from the Military Entrance Processing Command in Little Rock, until now, perhaps.

Two important questions remain concerning mandatory testing, despite the data. How can we tell from the statistics furnished by the DoD exactly how many are taking the test and how do we know if a school requires students to take the ASVAB?  If the Pentagon admits there are nearly a thousand schools that require military testing, how many are there, really? There's never been outside accountability. This is tragically ironic because we're dealing with the most sensitive information the state can possess regarding our children.

According to the data, 6,536 schools or 56% of the total nationally, tested ten or fewer children, comprising just 6% of the total number of students tested.  Most of these children, it may reasonably be assumed if the data is accurate, were offered the opportunity to participate, rather than being required to do so.

The average American high school has an enrollment of 595 students and the average junior class has about 120 students.  If our hypothetical high school has 120 juniors what number of juniors tested might provide us a clue that the test was required?  Alternately, how small must the number of test takers be to reasonably demonstrate the voluntary nature of the exam?

There have been numerous press reports concerning student and parent dissatisfaction with mandatory military testing. Often, juniors and seniors use these ASVAB testing days to simply skip school, reducing the numbers of those being tested.  3,600 schools tested more than 50 students. Is it reasonable to assume that these students were required to do so?   Is it a stretch to suggest that the number of children in America that are forced to take the ASVAB is substantially higher than what the Pentagon publicly admits?   

The U.N. weighs in on mandatory testing

In early 2013 The UN's Committee on the Rights of the Child called on the Obama Administration to "Ensure that schools, parents and pupils are made aware of the voluntary nature of the ASVAB before consenting to the participation into it."   See the  Concluding observations on the Second Report of the United States of America, Adopted by the Committee on the Rights of the Child at its sixty-second session (14 January--5 2013) regarding the  Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict

The Committee had previously found that "Parents and children are often unaware of the voluntary nature of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test organized in schools or its links to the military and that in some instances students were reportedly informed that the test was mandatory." Members of the Committee in Geneva found it incredulous that a thousand American schools force underage children to take this military test without parental consent. 

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Pat Elder is the Director of the National Coaliton to Protect Student Privacy,, NNOMY

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... by Pat Elder on Monday, Jan 6, 2014 at 9:15:33 AM
An eye opener, but what are the enrollments of the... by Daniel Vasey on Monday, Jan 6, 2014 at 6:09:06 PM
As I was reading this I was getting more angry at... by Bill Johnson on Monday, Jan 6, 2014 at 9:27:13 PM
Thank you, Pat. And to any young man or woman con... by Daniel Geery on Tuesday, Jan 7, 2014 at 10:27:44 AM