The United States ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC) in 2002. Article 3.3 of OPAC states that recruitment practices involving minors should be voluntary. Forced military testing in American public schools for recruitment purposes without parental consent violates the treaty. In late 2012 the Obama Administration denied the mandatory nature of the testing regime. The US replied to the Committee, "Participation in the ASVAB CEP is entirely voluntary. DOD does not require schools to participate, nor does it require schools to test all students within a participating school."
The ASVAB is "free"
There is a compelling financial reason why so many take the ASVAB. It is often the only "free" assessment on "test day". A third of all high school students are not college bound. If these students are offered a choice between taking the PSAT which is a college entrance exam and involves paying a fee -- or taking the ASVAB which is free, they'll typically pick the ASVAB. The military will list these children as voluntarily taking the ASVAB, although they're actually forced to do so.
At Crown Point HS in Indiana, "11th grade students that wish to take the PSAT, and potentially qualify for national merit scholarships, will be required to pay $14.00. Juniors may register to take the PSAT in room c-203 from September 7-14th. 11th grade students that do not wish to take the PSAT will be administered the ASVAB exam. The ASVAB exam is free of charge."
Crown Point tested 469 students last year and they're listed as not mandatory. All had their results shipped to recruiting services without parental consent.
It's the same deal at Woodridge High School in Ohio, "Juniors may take the PSAT or the ASVAB. The cost of the PSAT is $14, Students register for the PSAT in Guidance and the deadline is September 16, 2013. There is no cost for the ASVAB." The DoD lists Woodridge as "not mandatory".
Administrative and Legislative Inroads by the DoD
New Jersey allows the ASVAB to be used as a substitute for mandatory graduation tests. The guidelines call for receiving a 31 on the AFQT, the Armed Services Qualifying Test. The ASVAB is used to calculate the AFQT. A 31 is the minimum score for enlistment in the Army. A 31 on the AFQT is roughly comparable to 5th or 6th grade proficiency in reading and math.
Kentucky calls for a 55 on the AFQT for a student to earn a diploma. A 55 on the AFQT is the same as a composite SAT score of 840, according to the widely distributed ASVAB Concordance Table provided by the recruiting command. An 840 on the SAT won't open college doors. It represents the bottom 5th of national SAT scores. A 55, however, opens the door to a host of military occupations. Kentucky, it should be noted, allows the military access to all student academic records upon request by any agency of the federal or state government for the purpose of determining a student's eligibility for military service. It's the worst law in the nation.
Mississippi's Department of Education is close to allowing students who score a 36 or better on the ASVAB in addition to a passing score on a state vocation test or approved industry certification to receive a high school diploma. The Magnolia State's board of education is seeking public input and is widely expected to approve the changes in January of 2014. The proposed policy does not address privacy concerns.
In Minnesota a new policy allows students to take the ASVAB to meet graduation assessment requirements in reading, mathematics and writing.
Missouri schools now encourage the universal use of the ASVAB and track all ASVAB scores as an integral part of the state's school improvement program.
Missouri and Kentucky alone tested 21,000 more students than they did last year. The rapid decline in the popularity of the testing regime nationally is somewhat arrested by these developments. Meanwhile, the vast majority of these new test takers had their personal information sent to military recruiting services without parental consent, undermining the efforts of privacy advocates.
The Military Entrance Processing Command is also aided by a dozen state governors who have issued proclamations calling on all students to take the ASVAB. In 2008 Alaska's Governor Palin became one of the first to proclaim ASVAB Career Exploration Month although no arrangements were made in Alaska or any other state to protect student privacy.
We're witnessing the institutionalization of a direct informational pipeline to the Military Entrance Processing Command.