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Students and Staff express concerns with AP Testing changes

AP classes are seen as an important aspect of college applications by both students and colleges because passing test scores and grade bumps can help increase the applicant’s chances of acceptance. 

“Colleges look at it, parents look at it, students look at it,” AP Geography teacher Robert Lacy said. “A good score reflects a good understanding and that’s what I care about.” 

With recent changes to the scheduling and format of the classes and tests due to COVID-19, students have raised concerns. Many of these concerns developed from the experience taking online tests last spring. 

AP exams are planned to change from online to in-person and are scheduled to take place May of 2021. The new semester system where students are given 3-4 classes per semester that San Marin has adopted this year puts first semester AP students at a disadvantage because they will not be assessed until next semester.

Sophomore Steven Flores, who has his AP class second semester, expressed his opinion on in-person AP testing.

“It makes it better for me, but I can also imagine the other kids having a harder time than me for sure,” Flores said. “The change of having four classes this semester has definitely changed how AP exams are no longer going to be fair.”

Currently, the College Board has no plans of having an online exam format. According to the CollegeBoard website, “AP will support in-school testing in 2021 because administering exams in schools maximizes access and opportunity.”  Schools will have to follow safety precautions, including people staying six feet apart and having a negative COVID-19 result before entering the test center. Some students dislike the change and may not be willing to take the exam. 

“I don’t like it, I would rather do it online than in a classroom even with all safety precautions in place,” sophomore Diego Carillo said. 

COVID-19 has not only affected student’s education but has also negatively impacted their mental state. According to a study by the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), “During the first academic term impacted by COVID-19 (Winter 2020), individuals were more sedentary and reported increased anxiety and depression symptoms relative to previous academic terms and subsequent academic breaks.”

These changes have made school harder on students and also has decreased their engagement for learning, all this from being taught from home. 

“This change makes school harder this semester because my teachers don’t know which skill to focus on when testing us during class, making us unprepared for the coming AP Test,” junior Madison Aivaliotis said. “But for the last AP test, I only had one, I felt school was no different, it just focused on how to do a DBQ rather than teaching us the information.” 

Students and teachers share similar opinions on AP exams and have expressed their difficulties with the new testing format. 

“It’s gonna be a challenge,” Lacy said. “It’s very difficult for a class to learn a years work of class in one semester” 

Courtesy of Brookings Institution
Graph compares students’ growth in math by grade before and during quarantine or what Brookings likes to call the “COVID Slide” using solid lines to represent a normal year and dotted lines to represent this year with COVID-19. The growth of the students lowered heavily during the COVID Slide showing that students are not growing at the rate they usually do.

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