Results for 40 students who took the ACT in June at Mariner High School, where the test was administered by proctors, went missing somewhere between the school and Iowa City. (Mariner High School)

Results for 40 students who took the ACT in June at Mariner High School, where the test was administered by proctors, went missing somewhere between the school and Iowa City. (Mariner High School)

Missing exams: They took the ACT but a courier lost them

The students completed the high-stakes test at Mariner High in June. Where are they?

EVERETT — Lindsey Greenfield spent a chunk of her junior year at Kamiak High School preparing for the ACT test.

She subscribed to online review packages and studied up on the grueling college admissions test.

She took the three-hour test, plus the extra 40-minute writing portion, on a Saturday in June at Mariner High School. She was relieved when it was over, and thought she did pretty well.

On Wednesday, after much anticipation, Lindsey got the results — and they are bad, for her and about 40 other students who took the ACT that day. Their test answers were lost somewhere along the 1,900 or so miles between Everett and Iowa City.

The package with those high-stakes sheets of paper never made it to the Iowa-based test company.

All their hard work vanished. Whereabouts unknown — even with a FedEx tracking number.

“The test coordinator delivered the package to FedEx,” said Ed Colby, ACT spokesman. “We are doing everything we can. Obviously, parents and students are upset.”

Colby said FedEx is taking the matter seriously and trying to track down the package, which was a regular-sized mailer.

“We are still hopeful these will be found and we’re still looking,” Colby said.

Though Mariner was the test site, the ACT test was not administered by the Mukilteo School District, district spokeswoman Diane Bradford said.

“While this was an ACT-organized event and not a school district-sponsored test, we know ACT is working with the courier to track down the shipment. We hope the courier tracks down the shipment soon,” she said.

“This coming school year, high school students at all Mukilteo School District high schools will be able to take the ACT during the school day for free, which will provide important and timely opportunities for students.”

Students can take the test on their own dime other times, which is the case in the Mariner mishap.

ACT and SAT are the two major entrance examinations accepted by American colleges and universities.

Earlier this year, the answer sheets from 440 students at a North Carolina high school who took the ACT on the statewide test date were lost and never shipped to ACT. In that case, it was blamed on “human error” by the school.

Colby said it is rare for answer sheets to go missing this long. “This is an exception,” he said.

He said about 5,000 test centers administer the ACT on designated national test dates. All packages are sent to the Iowa center for grading. Most arrive within a week or two, but some take longer, Colby said.

“Occasionally some will go missing during the shipping process. Most packages eventually are found and returned to us, but we have had some packages that have never been located.”

The standard wait for students to get scores is about two weeks, Colby said, but it can take two months.

ACT notified the affected students Wednesday, more than nine weeks after taking the test.

“We didn’t want to unnecessarily alarm students,” Colby said.

The letter apologized for the unfortunate situation and inconvenience.

The 40 affected students at the Mariner test site were automatically registered for the next test date, Sept. 14, at Everett Community College. Students will be refunded the June test fee.

“That’s the least of our worries,” said Lindsey’s dad, Brad Greenfield. “These are tied to monetary awards, college scholarships and things like that. It kind of puts kids under the gun to have really kind of one shot at it, which is what we were hoping to avoid.”

He’d hoped Lindsey could review the June test results for any missed answers in order to improve in those areas, which is a moot point now.

“Basically, now she’s back at ground zero,” he said. “It’s a really stressful test to start with.”

The father questions how this can happen.

“The level of scrutiny they go through to register and make sure it’s them at the test and all that, you just wonder where all the scrutiny is on the backside,” he said.

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

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