SMUHSD Concerned Parents 0

SMUHSD 2021 AP Testing Schedule Needs to be Changed Now

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SMUHSD has proposed a completely AT-HOME, ONLINE AP testing schedule for all of its students. They made this CHOICE, when they had the option of the traditional administration of these tests in-school, paper-and-pencil.

This schedule not only has some students taking AP exams a full TWO WEEKS after school is complete, but also forces students to take significantly more difficult, more complicated versions of the AP exams.

We request that the District re-visit this schedule and do its best to move as many of these AP exams back into May, as well as ensure that as many of these exams as possible are given IN-SCHOOL, PAPER-AND-PENCIL. This may result in re-scheduling of some final exams or finding creative solutions but we are confident that our district can find a better solution than what is currently proposed. There are other options available. In fact:

  • College Board has advised that schools schedule in-person, paper-and-pencil versions of the test (the original May offering - “Administration 1”), and use the later online versions as a BACKUP.
    • From the College Board: “the coordinator should leave their exam order set for Administration 1 and switch later if necessary.”
  • College Board has actually advised that the online, at-home version of the test is a LAST RESORT, if schools are unable to do in-person testing. Our district is using this option as their PRIMARY choice.
    • From the College Board: “Schools can authorize students to take these exams securely at home, if needed, providing a testing option for schools that are closed or have students who are unable to test in person for safety reasons.”

Problems with the proposed ALL-DIGITAL, AT-HOME AP Testing Schedule:

  • The digital format of the AP exams puts our students at a disadvantage during the test:
    • THE APPLICATION WILL NOT ALLOW STUDENTS TO RETURN TO ANSWERED QUESTIONS OR MOVE BACK-AND-FORTH BETWEEN UNANSWERED QUESTIONS. This will not allow students to take tests as they have been taught to take them - skipping hard problems and coming back to them later, and giving them the opportunity to check their answers if they finish early. Schools taking live, paper-and-pencil versions will not have this restriction.
    • STUDENTS WILL HAVE TO TYPE OUT THEIR ANSWERS. This is extremely difficult for math and science tests, where it will take significantly longer to type out mathematical or scientific equations as opposed to writing them by hand. The College Board has even acknowledged teachers “prefer in-school paper and pencil contingency options to digital options because the free-response questions require complex symbols that can’t be easily typed with a keyboard.” Again, schools taking live, paper-and-pencil versions will not have this restriction.
    • ANTI-CHEATING SOFTWARE WILL NEED TO BE INSTALLED, CAMERAS WILL BE ON. This software is notorious for flagging false-positives and even if the software falsely determines there is “an issue” with a student’s test, their test may be INVALIDATED.
  • The online test is forcing students to become SYSTEM ADMINISTRATORS, installing software 1-3 days before the test and hoping it runs successfully (Note that for more than half of these tests, school will be out, thus students may not be able to consult teachers or administrators for help)
    • From the College Board:
      • Schools must ensure that all students complete all required readiness steps before exam day.
        • Students will need to be able to install the testing application on their computer. If students are using school- or district-managed devices, the application will need to be pushed down centrally or permission to access the application will need to be granted.
        • Students will need to complete exam setup ahead of each exam day on the specific computer that they plan to use for testing. Exam setup will be available 3 days before exam day and must be completed no later than the day before exam day.”
  • More than half of these scheduled AP exams are a full TWO WEEKS after school has completed. People have already scheduled summer activities and trips/vacations, etc.
    • The district has, in essence, extended the school year by two weeks with no input from students or parents.
  • Any technical glitch (installation problems, connectivity issue, power, etc.) will result in test invalidation. Recall the online version of AP testing from 2020 when dozens of SMUHSD students had their online AP exams invalidated, forcing them to re-take the exams.

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