by Leah Peloff ‘18
After eight months of preparation in a rigorous, college-level course and hours on end of studying for exams, students walked into their May AP exams with the hopes of saving thousands of dollars by testing out of basic entry-level college classes. Unfortunately, this past spring, 53 Sherwood AP exams were lost, never to be graded by the College Board. About 39 of these were AP AB Calculus exams, which is a required college course and a vital credit for many who wish to be exempt from college math.
“As the AP coordinator, I can attest to the fact that I personally counted everything meticulously, packed the boxes, taped the boxes, and had UPS come take the boxes away,” explained Counselor Elizabeth Giffen. “But after they leave here, they go to a warehouse, get shipped to College Board’s educational testing service warehouse and a lot of things happen. No one knows where in the process anything happened after they left Sherwood.”
After initially realizing that the exams were lost, the College Board sent a letter to each one of the impacted students, giving them two options. First, they could retake the part of the exam that was lost (for AP Calculus, the multiple choice section), with no additional fee, using an alternate form of the exam. Many students viewed this as a weak replacement, considering much of the information had already been forgotten during the summer months. To try to accommodate this proposed solution, AP Calculus teacher Timothy Altaner agreed to host five or six review sessions before school for students who wish to retake their exam. The modified exam will take place on October 24 during the school day.
Why may students wish to retake the exam? Firstly, anyone receiving a projected three may see this as another chance to bump their score, considering many schools require at least a four to translate into college credit. Additionally, some schools will not recognize projected scores as real scores and therefore will not be any use at all.
If students do not wish to retake the multiple choice section, the College Board gave a second option of simply cancelling one’s score and refunding the exam fee. Cancelling, however, means absolutely no chance for credit, so several weeks later a third option emerged which seemed the best choice for many. College Board sent out “projected scores” that could potentially be used for credit based on the portion of the exam that was still available for scoring.
“Under these circumstances, and because of the statistical relationship between the standard exam score and the projected exam score, we support the use of projected scores for the purpose of granting credit and/or placement,” explained the College Board in a letter to all affected students. With this, students had to choose what they wished to come of their exam score and send the letter back by as soon as possible.
“I decided to retake the exam mostly because the schools I am applying to won’t take projected scores and I got a projected 4, so I think I’d be able to get actual credit if I retook it,” said senior Melissa Oliver.
Despite efforts to ameliorate the situation and accommodate the angered parents, students, and faculty, many are still wondering how such a huge mistake could have occurred in the first place and how to make sure something like it never happens again.