Student Rights

Student Privacy and Military Recruiting

12.13.12

The ACLU and other privacy advocacy groups have concerns about the U.S. military invading students’ privacy for recruiting purposes.

The Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery test, also known as the ASVAB, is a recruiting method used by the U.S. military. The U.S. Department of Defense developed the test, which is administered by high schools around the country. The ASVAB tests basic subjects such as general science, paragraph comprehension, and arithmetic reasoning. After students take the test, the schools release their scores to military recruiters. The U.S. military uses ASVAB scores to determine who is qualified to enlist in the armed services, and in which military branch to place the qualifying student.

It is important to know that the ASVAB is voluntary. Students should not feel obligated to take the test. It is a good idea for students to talk with their parents about the ASVAB and discuss the consequences of sending their scores and personal information to the military.

Federal law requires parental consent for the release of most information on students under 18 years old. Whether that student privacy law is respected depends on how schools choose to administer the ASVAB.

Schools administer the ASVAB in a number of ways. Many schools ask students, regardless of their age, to sign a waiver giving their permission to have the results forwarded to the military. When a school uses this option, parents have little power to assist students in their choice to send personal information to the military. If your school does not require parental consent for the ASVAB, you should understand that you do not have to take the test, and that by signing the waiver, you are giving the school permission to transfer your scores and personal information to military recruiters.

Some schools have chosen to seek parental consent before releasing students’ ASVAB test results. In this way, the student and parent can discuss the ASVAB and the consequences of transferring personal information to military recruiters. The ACLU of Ohio strongly recommends that schools request parental consent before releasing ASVAB scores to the military.

Toledo Public Schools (TPS) recently decided to protect student privacy by no longer administering the ASVAB. Please click on the links below to view the original letter sent from the ACLU of Ohio to TPS and TPS’s subsequent action protecting student privacy.

ACLU of Ohio’s press release and letter to Toledo Public Schools urging the school to protect student privacy

ACLU of Ohio’s press release announcing the change in TPS policy

Resources

Military Recruiting Database and Your Privacy: Information on protecting students’ privacy from military recruiters

Soldiers of Misfortune: Abusive U.S. Military Recruitment and Failure to Protect Child Soldiers: A report examining military recruitment efforts

Students! Know Your Rights: A guide to students’ rights in schools