College Nightmare: ACT Loses Test Results For Local Students, Possibly Costing One A Bright Futures Scholarship

August 19, 2019

[EXCLUSIVE] ACT tests taken by Florida and Alabama students in Atmore were lost, and one local mom believes it may have cost her daughter a Florida Bright Futures Scholarship. NorthEscambia.com has spent over two weeks investigating and attempting to get answers from state officials.

There were 18 students that took the ACT test June 8 at Escambia County High School in Atmore, but those answer sheets are nowhere to be found, according to ACT.

“The package containing the answer sheets for 18 students who took the ACT at Escambia County High School on our June 8 national test date has not yet been received by ACT,” Ed Colby, senior director of Media and Public Relations at ACT, told NorthEscambia.com. He said the answer sheets were lost in transit by the transportation carrier.

We spoke to a local mother of a Florida student that took the June 8 ACT in Atmore in hopes of qualifying for a Bright Future Scholarship. The state funded program provides full or partial scholarships to students that meet certain academic levels, including minimum ACT or SAT scores. Her daughter had failed to make the required ACT score on previous attempts, and a good score on the June 8 test was her last hope to meet the qualification deadline for the scholarship.

“We had very high hopes this would be the test with good results. She could had have a four-year college scholarship, but now that the tests are lost, how will we ever know? She could have possibly gone to college on a scholarship,” the student’s mother told NorthEscambia.com. We have independently verified that her student took the June 8 test and other aspects of her story, but she spoke for this report based upon a condition that she and her daughter remain anonymous.

“She had taken the ACT test several times and had improved each time. She was very close to earning Bright Futures,” she said. “She had set a goal and had spent as much time as she could. It was her last shot, give it all you can. She didn’t work at a job; she treated like preparing for the ACT was her job.”

June was the last possible date for a Florida student to take the ACT in order to qualify for a Bright Futures Scholarship. The program has an “all or none” policy; everything is complete by the deadline or it’s no chance of a four-year scholarship.

We reached out to Cheryl Etters, deputy director of communications for the Florida Department of Education (FDOE), which administers the Bright Futures Scholarship program. We spoke to her on the phone August 1, and followed up by email seeking information about any policy FDOE may have in place to assist a student unable to apply for the scholarships due to no fault of their own, such as the lost ACT scores.

As of August 18, we had received no response whatsoever from FDOE.

We also spoke to Florida Senator Doug Broxson on August 1.  He too attempted to get  a response from the Department of Education.

NorthEscambia.com had numerous contacts with Broxson’s office during our two week investigation. His staff quickly responded to us each time, and repeatedly attempted to  obtain answers from FDOE. As of last week, the only response the state senator’s office had received from FDOE was yet another promise to provide information.

As for ACT, they say they are sorry this happened but it was beyond their control. ACT refunded the testing fee to each of the 18 students, and they are allowing each student to take the ACT again for free. The next testing date is September 14, too late for students on deadline to apply for Bright Futures.

“This is a very unfortunate situation, and we sincerely regret that students have been impacted by it through no fault of their own. Packages can go missing during the shipping process, but this is a rare occurrence, and usually they do turn up at some point. So, our search continues, and we are hoping for the best,” Colby said.

He stressed that Escambia County High School and its representatives were not at fault; they shipped the answer sheets back as instructed via FedEx. FedEx has been unable to find the lost package.

“I can confirm that the package was picked up at the school and scanned by the carrier. The package went missing while in transit,” he said.

The local mom said her daughter will take the ACT test again. She’ll be in college this fall with the family forced to foot her education bill, may have a job and will be studying hard to pass her classes.

“She will never have another opportunity to take the ACT again while focusing on it as hard as she did in June,” she said.

“I know in my heart this cost her a four year scholarship from the state that she should have got.”

The Seattle Times last week reported on a similar situation last week in Washington state where the answer sheets of 40 students were lost by FedEx. The Seattle Times also reported that 440 tests from North Carolina were lost earlier this year, 125 from California went missing in 2017, and 53 from New York were lost in 2016.

NorthEscambia.com photo and graphic.

Comments

11 Responses to “College Nightmare: ACT Loses Test Results For Local Students, Possibly Costing One A Bright Futures Scholarship”

  1. Heather Collins on October 31st, 2019 7:08 pm

    This just happened to us in Spencer County Ky. And now its to late to retake and use the score for scholarships. They just informed us that the tests were lost 8 weeks after the fact.

  2. Allison on August 22nd, 2019 7:09 pm

    North Escambia, Thank you for writing about this issue. It is great these poor students affected by this awful mistake have a voice. I can’t imagine if this had happened to my child. Perhaps your reporting will help solve the problem.

  3. Natalie Casoon on August 20th, 2019 11:42 pm

    Who ever is found to be responsible should pay all 4 years college of these kids. Then they should pay them each one million dollars in punitive damages. This is an OUTRAGE. I am outraged at this I will take to social media outlets and tell every one of this. I demand JUSTICE.

  4. Cindy on August 20th, 2019 8:45 am

    Anyone who has had dealings with FedEx / Smartpost knows you do not use them. Do a search of FedEx Smartpost and you will find complaints such as FedEx packages going round and around and getting lost. When I order anything, I will ask if it is going to be shipped by FedEx. If they tell me yes, I will then cancel my order. I tracked one of my packages taking a bizarre trip around the U.S.. As always, it shows up 3 or 4 days late.

    FedEx / Smartpost, for when you want it lost and need a tracking number for proof you shipped it.

  5. J on August 19th, 2019 2:24 pm

    What was the outcome in the previous occupancy listed? Were those missing tests ever located?

  6. Lawana Shelly on August 19th, 2019 1:50 pm

    Can’t imagine the stress and disappointment this individual has had to experience, but if FedX picked the package up there should be a tracking number. A printout should be somewhere. These test are so important to young people, how can someone be so careless? Everyone wants to blame the other one. Hope they are Found.

  7. anne 1of2 on August 19th, 2019 12:10 pm

    Bright Futures are way too proud of their rules and regulations One can see by the ACT people that they have tried very hard to right the wrong but the fact remains that the word “sorry” is not an eraser. I hope the family will pursue a solution if their daughter did, in fact, qualify with a higher score and yes, Fed Ex can afford that year of college. All of them can take part in righting this wrong.

  8. karen on August 19th, 2019 9:56 am

    Maybe it time to switch carriers!

  9. Southend Lurker on August 19th, 2019 8:32 am

    I truly hope that the original tests show up and that FDOE does the right thing and accepts the test scores from the test taken that date, if they show up. The unfortunate thing is that even if this student were allowed to take the test again there is no way of knowing that they would have scored the same. She could take it again and not do as well as she did in June, which would be extremely unfortunate.

  10. David on August 19th, 2019 8:13 am

    Praying all these hard working kids get their full scholarships…our future

  11. SW on August 19th, 2019 6:29 am

    Maybe FedEx could step up and help out. It’s on them, after all.





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