Chicago student illegally pressured to provide personal information to College Board

Today is PSAT/SAT day at many high schools throughout the nation. Here is a list of the states that require these exams be given to all high school juniors, this week and next.  There are also many schools and districts that are voluntarily giving these exams today, including those in NYC and elsewhere in NY state.

You can see that Illinois is on the list; and yesterday, students in Chicago were asked to fill the College Board Student data questionnaire one day ahead of time.

This questionnaire urges students to provide sensitive personal information concerning their race, ethnicity, religion, social security number, GPA, citizenship, high school course work and interests, the family’s education, income and/or military background, as well as various student “self-ratings,” all of which College Board sells or “licenses” to participating “partners” at 42 cents per name. Answering the questions on this questionnaire is purely voluntary, though this has not been made sufficiently clear to teachers or students.

Below is the account from a parent at one of Chicago’s largest high schools, Lane Tech, relating the pressure put on her son to fill out the Questionnaire, from an email sent to Cassie Creswell of Chicago’s More than a Score and a member of our Coalition.

Not only is it unethical to place such pressure on students; it is probably illegal as well.  College Board is infamous for its confusing instructions  to teachers, proctors and students about which questions must be filled out on the test sheets and the separate Questionnaire and on the PSAT test sheets, as I explained here.

As Cassie pointed out, the fact that this parent was not sent any sort of consent form ahead of time would also seem to violate Chicago Public School policy because parents are supposed to be given the opportunity to review the survey/assessment prior to being administered to their children if the students are under 18, and  asked for their consent.

Please contact us at if you have any information about similar occurrences at your child’s school.

Here is the email to Cassie from the parent:

Thank you for contacting me! I was very surprised at the questions he told me were being asked of him and the proctor’s response.

We were not given any sort of consent forms from Lane or any notification on this type of questionnaire.

My son texted me and told me the questions were asking parent status, household income, documentation(citizen), religion, race.

According to my son, when he told the proctor he was uncomfortable answering these questions, she said he had to fill them out and wouldn’t let him go to the bathroom unless they were filled out. He didn’t fill them out and didn’t go to the bathroom either. I asked if others had any issues with it and he said he really didn’t know.

Again, this was at Lane Tech high school in Chicago and he is a junior and the SAT is a mandatory test in his high school.