During the beginning of the pandemic many Advanced Placement students were frantically studying in preparation for the modified, at-home, AP exams that were approaching in May. The exams were a shortened version of the typical exam the College Board provides in order for students to earn the opportunity to receive college credit. If students pass the exam with a 3 or above, they will be granted college credit for that subject, for most colleges.
As an idea it sounded like an organized plan, however, the execution was far from that. Many students who felt they should have passed, received extremely low scores, and some other students who didn’t expect to pass, received high scores. Tests had to be rescored and students, and teachers were left feeling frustrated and discouraged.
With everything changing due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the College Board should really reconsider the way students are granted college credit. Colleges this year are SAT optional or SAT blind, which helps students who were not able to take the SAT, immensely. The College Board should take part in that, and instead of giving an exam to grant college credit, they should look at students' grades in their AP classes.
Looking at grades instead of administering exams would not only benefit the students and the teachers, but it will also give colleges a better idea of what the students' true capabilities are. It has been proven that some students are not great test takers, but have the skills required to finish certain tasks. External factors like illness, or stress may also affect test scores.
An A or B in an AP class is an indicator of a student’s ability to understand the content of the class. This is because they have been instructed by a teacher who has received special training on how to teach a specific AP class. An exam is just an indicator of how well the student remembers on that particular day.
The College Board has currently changed the AP exams for the upcoming year, expecting them to go back to the original in-person full length exams. However, the College Board has stated, “If health and safety conditions allow, your school can offer in-person testing—and if not, that’s OK. We’ll offer options so all students can test, even if school buildings are closed. More information will be available in early 2021.”
This news is especially interesting due to the fact that San Bernardino Unified School District has already said their school district will not open for the rest of the 2020-2021 school year. Rialto Unified School district has not made any definitive plans and still has students, parents, and teachers questioning whether or not in-person school will resume next semester with the proposed hybrid schedule.
While all of this is up in the air and different scenarios are playing out across the country, with some students preparing to test from home like in San Bernardino, and others preparing to test from school like in other states where students have already been attending classes in person, the College Board should give secondary institutions the ability to grant college credit based on what a student achieves inside the classroom.