HILLSBOROUGH - Three high school students were sent to an in-school suspension classroom after refusing to take a military aptitude test at Cedar Ridge High School on Tuesday.
Principal Gary Thornburg said the students were not being disciplined, but rather that the in-school suspension teacher was the staff person available to supervise them.
More than 300 juniors spent two hours Tuesday and again Wednesday in the school cafeteria taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.
Thornburg said the test, which the U.S. military calls the ASVAB, is traditionally administered to juniors at his school and is part of a larger career assessment program.-thanks to firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 932-2005
The military provides the tests, proctors and grading without charge. In exchange, the scores are sent to military branch recruiters and the school.
"This happens to be the best career assessment we've found," Thornburg said.
By federal law, the contact information for any junior or senior who doesn't sign an opt-out form is passed along to recruiters by the school district.
Thornburg said since students can keep their information private, he didn't understand why some would not want to take the test. The results are discussed with students in school advisory groups that can help them identify study and career choices, he said.
"I don't have a lot of patience with people who are refusing to take the assessment -- or refusing anything that their entire grade level is participating in," Thornburg said.
Dakota Ling, one of the juniors sent to the suspension classroom, said he didn't think he would benefit from the test. Ling, an honors student, has a better than 4.0 grade point average and plans to become a graphic designer.
"I just really don't want the military to have all the info it can on me," he said.
The N.C. Department of Public Instruction does not encourage schools to give the ASVAB to students who have not expressed an interest in the military, spokeswoman Linda Fuller said.
Students in Durham and Wake counties have to sign up for the test. So do students in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and at the Orange County school system's other high school, Orange.
When it opened in 1996, East Chapel Hill High School tested all sophomores, said Winslow Carter, career development coordinator.
"We had such an outrage from the parents and the community that we didn't do that anymore," Carter said. He said he still thinks the aptitude test is valuable for nonmilitary career guidance.
Now, fewer than 10 students a year take the test at East Chapel Hill High School.
Chapel Hill Army recruiter Sgt. Jason Earl has seen that drop off in many area schools. He said recruiters understand that everyone who takes the test may not be interested in military service and that if a household asks them not to call back, they generally don't.
"We're not out here to harass," Earl said.
Article 3 of the United Nations Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, ratified by 54 countries, has adopted 18 years of age as the acceptable minimum standard for Armed Forces recruitment and training of children.
Some of the students at Buffalo’s Hutch Tech were as young as 13 years old.