FREMONT, Mich. (WOOD) – The state is looking into allegations that the ACT and Michigan Merit Exam were improperly administered at Fremont High School.
The Michigan Merit test helps the state measure the success of schools. The ACT helps colleges decide which students to accept. High scores in both make schools look good. Fremont Public Schools advertises ACT success on its website.
A tip to ReportIt suggested Fremont juniors had some help during the tests taken in March. The tipster said that help came in the form of calculators that appear in photos to have been given to students by the school.
According to the tipster, a file named ‘ACT HELP INFORMATION’ had been downloaded onto the calculators. That program provides step-by-step instructions to solve certain problems.
Calculators are allowed for the math portion of the tests, but models that allow file downloads generally are not permitted.
Michigan Department of Education spokesman Bill Disessa said in a Thursday statement that the “allegations regarding the administration” of the tests are “very serious” and that the MDE has opened a formal investigation. He would not comment on specifics of those allegations.
Fremont Public Schools Jim Hieftje told 24 Hour News 8 in a Thursday phone interview the district is aware of the investigation. He said the school did not knowingly give its students an advantage on the tests.
Fremont High School Principal Scott Sherman admitted in a phone interview that a program was downloaded for the students’ ACT prep class. He says the school was following the rules because the ACT manual states that “calculators are not to be cleared by staff before or during the test.”
The ACT did not return a request for comment Thursday evening about rules prohibiting similar files or allowing them to be removed.
Fremont parents were surprised upon learning of the allegations, but mostly concerned for their student’s future, because the ACT plays such a big role in getting into college.
“My son said calculators were in the room. He did not use it on his test. Not everyone used them on the test and apparently the calculators came with the school,” parent Doug Beren said.
His son has already been looking at colleges across the state for computer science, and he said he would be upset if any controversy rendered his score invalid.
“I wouldn’t be very happy and I know he’d be really devastated because he might have take them over again and I don’t think he wants to do that,” Beren said.
The Department of Education would not talk about any possible penalties if their investigation shows the school violated the rules.
Disessa’s Thursday statement:
“We are aware of the allegations regarding the administration of the ACT and the Michigan Merit Exam at Fremont High School. The actions alleged to have occurred are very serious and we have opened a formal investigation into the matter.”