Seating irregularity invalidates seven AP exams, leading to retakes

May 22, 2017 — by Kitty Huang and Alexandra Li

College Board enforces strict seating requirements

The administration received an email from the College Board on May 3 claiming that the organization had received a photo from an anonymous source of a table at the school used for testing. This photo led College Board to inquire about the seating arrangements of the AP exams that had taken place on the first three days of testing that occurred May 1-3.

Finding what they deemed a violation, College Board officials invalidated seven out of 20 exams offered by the school this year, leading to retakes that are taking place May 18-26.

The seating arrangement implemented by the school on the first three days of the AP testing had students sitting 4 feet apart with dividers between them at some tables. However, this system violated the College Board’s guidelines that require students sitting 5 feet apart without dividers, which College Board claimed would have “provided a more secure testing environment.”

No actual cheating was observed by proctors or alleged to have happened during the testing.

While College Board officials first contacted the administration on May 3, the Educational Testing Services, which is partnered with College Board for logistics and security, did not confirm the invalidation of the tests until May 12. The administration then immediately communicated these circumstances to students and their parents along with a plan for the makeup exams.

The administration was able to rearrange the testing area once it was informed of the possible violation, which resulted in 13 of 20 exams offered this year to be valid. The seven invalidated exams included AP Chemistry, Environmental Science, Psychology, Computer Science, Physics 1, Physics 2 and Spanish Language and Culture.

Since almost 300 students are affected by the situation, the administration had hoped for a more reasonable answer as to why the tests were invalidated.

“At no time has the College Board received reports of test integrity violations,” assistant principal Brian Safine said. “We believe our seating setup was entirely secure.”

Even so, the school has accepted that the College Board’s guidelines were not followed exactly.

The seven retakes will take place using both the Small Gym and the library. The retakes are for Computer Science (May 18); Chemistry (May 18); Physics 2 (May 19); Physics 1 (May 24) Psychology (May 24); Spanish (May 25); and Environmental Science (May 26).

Despite the unfortunate situation, no students will have to pay to retest; instead, the administration worked together with College Board to waive testing fees for both the district and students.

“We apologize to our students and families for the tremendous inconvenience this has caused,” Safine said. “We appreciate how our students are working with us to make the best of a bad situation.”