Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
The ASVAB is the military’s entrance exam that is given to prospective recruits to determine their aptitude for various military occupations. NO, the career field recommendations are military-oriented, NOT general or generic.
The three-hour test is primarily (per DoD and military branch procedures) used as a recruiting tool in thousands of schools across the U.S. and Territories (Ref. USAREC Pamphlet 350-13, “School Recruiting Program Handbook,” – an Army marketing guide – for the number of times “ASVAB” is mentioned as a marketing tool, and, particularly, Section 6-5. “Benefits”)
What is not normally known is that this test really serves only two purposes:
- Per U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command (USMEPCOM) Regulation 601-4 (2), ASVAB serves as marketing/sales tool to provide recruiters with valuable “inside” information on the test-takers so that, along with the data from NCLB–required school records access and JAMRS, targeted sales “discussions” can help recruiters convince our youth to become prospective enlistees:
The DOD STP (Student Testing Program)
“The STP is offered to provide secondary and post-secondary schools and students assistance in curriculum planning, vocational and career counseling, and group assessment. The CEP allows recruiting services to gain access and visibility to the high school market and provides names and scores of potential recruits to the services. The DOD offers the STP to schools at no cost. The DUSD/AP has charged USMEPCOM to administer the STP using test and career exploration materials developed by DMDC.”
- As a career-matching device to aim these same youth toward military-only career fields (there is absolutely no direct correlation with civilian occupations and never has been, only very general “pointers.”
Although the military promotes the ASVAB as a voluntary “Career Exploration Program” administered to juniors and seniors, the US Army Recruiting Command’s School Recruiting Program Handbook, USAREC Pamphlet 350-13, says the primary purpose of the ASVAB is to provide military recruiters “with a source of leads of high school juniors and seniors qualified through the ASVAB for enlistment into the Active Army and Army Reserve”
For those who might be interested, the United States Military Entrance Processing Command’s information processing regulations for military enlistees are spelled out in the following:
USMEPCOM Regulation 680-3, “Integrated Resource System (USMIRS)”
USMEPCOM Regulation 601-4, “Student Testing Program”
The ASVAB is also used as a recruiting tool in over 150 schools throughout Oregon and over 11,900 schools across the country. The 4 hour test is used by military recruiting services to gain valuable information on more than 600,000 high school students across the country every year. In most cases, students take the test without parental knowledge or consent. Parental notification is not consistent among U.S. schools.
There are eight data reporting options for the test results, but only ONE, Option 8, that supposedly prohibits distribution to military recruiters who use the data to specifically and purposefully target potential high school graduates into the military.
Note, FERPA_Reg_CFR 34 Part 99, “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Regulations” technically defines student records limited availability, but the DoD ASVAB test results are “not limited” to that.
Unless the school that is used for the testing establishes “Option 8” for reporting purposes, all of the information from each test is given to local military recruiters to be able to conduct more effective sales pitches to our youth.
THIS is where those who are outraged at such an invasion of privacy that leads to a stacked deck in recruiting children into the military can make a difference: convince your local school officials to, if they haven’t done so already, REQUIRE Option 8 reporting for all ASVAB testing.
Administration and release of ASVAB information is set by U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command (USMEPCOM) Regulation 601-4 (2). They range from Options 1 through 7, which permits test results and other student information to be released under varying conditions to military recruiters without prior consent; to Option 8, which requires active parental consent to release the ASVAB test results and private information. Inaction on the part of a school will cause USMEPCOM to automatically select Option 1, full and immediate disclosure. From what we have seen, in practice, there is also no guarantee that even test information under Option 8 won’t be available to recruiters.
In 2006/2007, Oregon schools (per the 2009/2010 Directory) administered the ASVAB and, while 45% of the test scores were privacy protected under Option 8, 55% of them had their test results and private information, (including social security numbers) forwarded to military recruiting services, under one of the other ASVAB options and most likely without parental consent.
As you may know, the Family Educational Rights Protection Act, (FERPA), and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) contain requirements for opt-out notifications in releases of student information. This usually enables parents to stop their child’s personal information from being released to third parties. However, the ASVAB student testing program skirts the opt-out notification requirements both FERPA and ESEA have in place to protect students
Tragically, even on the ASVAB website www.asvabprogram.com, the military fails to identify what the acronym “ASVAB” stands for and fails to mention the primary purpose of the testing regime. In schools throughout Oregon, the ASVAB is often promoted, and in some schools even required as early as the 11th grade, without revealing its tie-in to the military or its primary function as a recruitment tool. We have found Oregon schools that link to other placement and evaluation tests on their websites and require every student to take the ASVAB, yet without reference to what the test is really for.
Although the military promotes the ASVAB as a voluntary “Career Exploration Program” administered to juniors and seniors, the US Army Recruiting Command’s School Recruiting Program Handbook, USAREC Pamphlet 350-13 says the primary purpose of the ASVAB is to provide military recruiters “with a source of leads of high school juniors and seniors qualified through the ASVAB for enlistment into the Active Army and Army Reserve” (4)(5).
Tragically, even on the ASVAB website www.asvabprogram.com, the military fails to identify what the acronym “ASVAB” stands for — Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery — and fails to mention the primary purpose of the testing regime. In more than a thousand schools throughout America, the ASVAB is often promoted, and in some schools even required as early as the 11th grade, without revealing its tie-in to the military or its primary function as a recruitment tool. We have found Oregon schools that link to other placement and evaluation tests on their websites and require every student to take the ASVAB, yet without reference to what the test is really for.
After the test is administered, military representatives meet with children to discuss their scores and suggest military oriented career paths. These recruiters are not trained as general career counselors, nor is the ASVAB aimed at civilian occupation needs. Later, recruiters make calls to unsuspecting youth, using individualized profiles gathered from test data and other sources.
Understand that the ASVAB is not an IQ test. It does not measure your intelligence. This battery of tests was designed specifically to measure your aptitude to be trained to perform specific military-specific jobs.
The ASVAB is a series of tests testing your knowledge and aptitude in the following subjects: Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, General Science, Auto & Shop Information, Mechanical Comprehension, Electronics Information, and Assembling Objects.
From the test results in these categories, an over-all AFQT score is computed using the Standard Scores from four ASVAB subtests: Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), Paragraph Comprehension (PC), and Word Knowledge (WK).
It is the AFQT score that is the immediate determiner for enlistment in any branch of the military, and from this chart, it can be seen what the DoD considers of High School graduation vs. the GED approach. 🙂
Military Requirements for Minimum ASVAB Scores
Branch High School Diploma GED
Army 31 50
Navy 35 50
Marines 32 50
Air Force 36 65
Coast Guard 40 50
National Guard 31 50
What is the AFQT?
The Armed Forces Qualification Test Score (AFQT) is a single number which is a percentile derived from four of the nine ASVAB subtests (maximum of 99): Paragraph Comprehension (PC), Word Knowledge (WK), Mathematics Knowlege (MK), and Arithmetic Reasoning (AR).
Each branch of the military has a minimum AFQT score for entry (currently, in addition to a high school diploma, the minimums are USAF 36, Army 31, Navy 35, Marines 32, Coast Guard 40) and the higher that score is, the more jobs open up to the enlistee. My score when I enlisted put me in the 96th percentile of all enlistees at the time so they put me (I had little choice) in an apparently “highly desirable” field, Special (nuclear) Weapons Electronics… somebody tell where I could get a civilian job with THAT specialty!
We could include VOLUMES of boring info on this topic (and we have in the past) but detailed info as well as ASVAB School Testing Data by Years, State & Territory, in Excel Format, can be found at studentprivacy.org, the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy. We recommend following this excellent website to keep up with current news on the topic of high school recruiting.
Another VERY GOOD website to visit is nnomy.org. This is the website of the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth. We suggest downloading that organization’s NNOMY Reader ( NNOMY Reader: Voices from the U.S. Counter-recruitment Movement)
- School Recruiting Handbook – USAREC Publication 130-13
- Counter Recruitment Brochure For Schools
- Guide To Working With School Boards
- ASVAB Test Administration Manual Raises Questions Regarding the Collection of Social Security Numbers and Federal Protections of Student Privacy
- ASVAB Career Exploration Program (ASVAB-CEP)
- ASVAB Test Administration Manual
- Buckley Amendment