Allowing in-person AP exams for students at LAHS and MVHS

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The Mountain View Los Altos school district is only offering online AP exams. All online AP exams do not allow students to "return to answered questions or move back-and-forth between unanswered questions". By not allowing students to review questions, they put all AP exam test takers at a disadvantage. While high schools across the country are allowing students to choose between online and in-person exams, our school district has mandated that all students take exams online (with the exception of some world languages which are required by the College Board to be administered in-person). While they claim that they "used input from teachers, students, administration, and families," many students and teachers have expressed their concern over the lack of choice and the inability to review past questions on an exam. No survey of students or families on the AP exam administration has been sent out. Additionally, there are alterations to the online exam in comparison to regular in-person exam format (Art History, European History, U.S. History, World History: Modern, Calculus AB/BC, Chemistry, Physics 1, Physics 2, Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism, Physics C: Mechanics, Statistics). For example in Physics 1 and 2, there will be a second multiple-choice section with 45 minutes to answer 25 questions and two fewer free-response questions. This means that students and teachers are less sure about the types of questions that are going to be asked and will therefore lead to less successful preparation. We ask that you sign to allow the school to provide options for students! If the school can accommodate hybrid learning then they can accommodate AP exam choice!

Issues with forcing students to take online exams:

  1. If you encounter a hard question that needs more time, you cannot "skip and come back to it later."  Students must choose between giving up the question and spending a significant amount of time to solve the problem right then and there and potentially losing track of time. The online practice that students have been given throughout the year is not reflective of the actual exam!
  2. Students need to be extremely good at pacing themselves. If they move too slowly they won't have enough time to finish the exam. If they move too quickly they will be left with plenty of extra time in the end, but won't be able to go back to previous pages to review the answers.
  3. Digital exam formats are different from paper-and-pencil formats (multiple choice vs. free response questions), which means there won't be any practice tests or past exam papers the students can use to prepare for the exam. This will significantly impact AP exam scores and will reflect poorly on students, the school, and AP teachers who are evaluated by congregate scores. Exams with significant changes in format are: Art History, European History, U.S. History, World History: Modern, Calculus AB/BC, Chemistry, Physics 1, Physics 2, Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism, Physics C: Mechanics, Statistics. Physics 1, for example, will have a second multiple-choice section and two fewer free-response questions.
  4. Seniors may need to know their AP scores when submitting college course selections during summer orientations. There is no guarantee that scores from the third set of exam dates (our school) will be back in time to get credit for college courses during university registration for the first term. Historically, early May test scores have been returned in July.  
  5. Another problem is keeping seniors in "school mode" after a weekend of celebrating graduation - whatever that looks like this year. Seniors will be forced to come back to school to take AP exams after they graduate.
  6. The Admin 3 schedule of AP exams is extremely tight. Students taking both Physics and Calculus, for example, will have 6 hours of digital testing in one day. Screen fatigue and access equity are real concerns with the required 3 to 6 hours of internet access with this format.
  7. Students with extra time on morning exams will actually still be testing during afternoon exam times, meaning the school will anyways need to provide earlier dates for students.


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