Staff editorial: College Board’s AP test ruling teaches lessons

May 30, 2017 — by Alex Yang

The ringing of the end of school bell on Friday, May 12, did not mark the end of the AP testing season for Saratoga High students as it was supposed to.

Gathered in the McAfee Center for an emergency meeting on May 12, almost 300 students were shocked to hear assistant principal Brian Safine and principal Paul Robinson explain that the College Board had invalidated their hard-earned AP Chemistry, Environmental Science, Psychology, Computer Science, Spanish Language, Physics 1 and Physics 2 scores.

The administrators said that although the school was looking for the opportunity to file an appeal or challenge the decision made by College Board, there were simply no officials from the organization willing to hear them out.

However, perhaps College Board isn’t the mean and bullying organization such an unfair-seeming verdict suggests: After all, College Board officials wouldn’t invalidate all scores unless there was sufficient evidence of a rules violation.

Clearly, there was.

In their presentation to disappointed students, Safine and Robinson said there was a picture of the school’s AP testing setup that was sent to College Board officials. Although the way the administration explained the existence of the picture made the violation seem somewhat innocuous, the fact that College Board has a no-tolerance policy means schools can’t mess up these seating arrangements.

The problem was that some the tables used for testing were only 6 feet long instead of the required 8, and dividers were used when they weren’t allowed.

Although the general student opinion on the subject is to blame every party involved — College Board especially — placing blame on the testing organization alone is flat-out wrong.

While the situation is highly unfortunate, the only ones at fault for the score invalidation are the anonymous source of the photograph and the school officials who failed to follow College Board’s instructions for test center setup.

Understandably, most students are peeved that they had to retake their AP tests like physics. But that doesn’t mean they should be pointing fingers at College Board officials who were just doing their jobs.

While some people may think it is ridiculous that College Board is a de facto monopoly and enforced its rules without an investigation — after all, no cheating was even alleged to have occurred — high schools must realize the immoveable force they’re up against and adjust accordingly.

The only competitor that College Board has is the ACT, but even then the ACT doesn’t offer replacement or equivalent exams for AP credit or SAT II Subject Tests. Until some organization is able to break College Board’s stranglehold on the testing market, schools and students will be helpless in defending against unlucky situations such as ours.

The lesson for school for future years: Follow College Board’s rules to the letter no matter what.

 

 

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