By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer
A military-sponsored career aptitude test administered annually at Clovis High School is gaining notoriety among students. When it was administered Wednesday, roughly 50 students opted not to take it, and others did so begrudgingly, students said.
“They think that if you take it, then military people will come calling, trying to get them to join,” said Clovis High School sophomore Pablo Urban. “Some fail it on purpose so no one will call them.”
Juniors at the high school are required to take the test, unless a parent or guardian contacts school administrators to dismiss them, according to school administrators.
CHS junior Katrina Green said she doesn’t want to join the military, although she is surrounded by a string of military family members. Her father and her step-father joined the military in moments of economic stress, she said, her brother because he wanted to travel.
She spent two class periods Wednesday answering the questions on the test. But she said it should be administered strictly on a voluntary basis.
“I think it’s messed up that they try to make us (take the test). It seems like they are trying to force us into (the military),” Green said. “Because of the war, they need to get new young people to join … because we are able bodied.”
The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) was designed as a military job placement aid prior to World War II. It is still used as such today, according to Gaylan Johnson, public affairs specialist for the United States Military Entrance Processing Command in northern Chicago.
The ASVAB helps recruiters gauge the aptitude and interest of new recruits, who are given the test upon enlistment, Johnson said.
Now, there are two types of ASVAB tests — those given to recruits, and those given to high school students as part of the joint-service High School Career Exploration Program, Johnson said.
“The whole idea is to gear the students towards a career based on their likes and dislikes and academic strengths,” Johnson said. “This is a free, very high quality aptitude tool for high school counselors. Rather than pay for a test like this, especially in the day of reduced school budgets, they can use these free counseling materials.”
But it is also a valuable recruiting tool.
Local Navy Recruiter Everett Diaz said he can sift through the scores, addresses and telephone numbers of test takers as soon as the tests are processed.
It is school administrators, however, who decide whether or not such information will be shared with recruiters, Johnson said.
“Only a school official will select the recruiter option for their students,” ASVAB regulations read.
There are eight options for school officials to choose from; two bar test scores and personal information from the eyes of recruiters altogether, one bars recruiters from actually contacting students. The rest put limitations on how soon the information is released to recruiters.
Clovis High School Head Counselor Pam Cornelison wasn’t the first to arrange for the ASVAB to be administered at the high school. She doesn’t know who did. But she orders the tests from Amarillo every year.
“It’s a good career tool for students,” Cornelison said, mirroring the sentiments of Johnson and CHS Principal Jody Balch.
Cornelison doesn’t recall ever choosing an option for the release of student information to recruiters. In fact, she said she was not aware of any such options. She said she doesn’t know what option has been chosen for ASVAB student information at CHS, although the school, she said, has been a host to the ASVAB for more than a decade.
ASVAB information is available to recruiters, according to students and recruiters. What is uncertain — even among high school personnel — is how soon local recruiters will have the information in their hands.
“It just doesn’t seem right that they make us do this,” said Green, who is resolute the military is not for her, and said she worries for friends who may be more easily convinced and later sent to battle zones.