Hundreds of Advanced Placement test results at Mills High School in Millbrae are being tossed out because of security concerns.
The College Board and Educational Testing Service cited "seating irregularities" when the tests were taken in May. How those irregularities came to their attention remains unclear and there have been no accusations, or evidence, that cheating took place.
The San Mateo Unified School District is considering legal action against ETS to have the tests scored and the results released. Trustees will meet in closed session at noon Tuesday.
Students say they're being punished for something that wasn't their fault -- and the repercussions are wide ranging.
Some of the 224 students affected face the possibility of their college acceptance being revoked as a result of conditional enrollment agreements that hinged on results from the tests. The deadline to submit those scores, for some, has already passed. For others, the scores are due soon.
Without AP test scores, several students will start college with fewer credits than had been anticipated, which can carry a heavy burden both financially, as it will take longer to graduate, and in time lost.
ETS has offered to re-administer the tests between Aug. 5-12, but that option isn't being viewed favorably by the students who originally took the tests in May.
On the website whyweneedourtestscoresback.com, created to fight the College Board's decision, the reasoning against a retake is explained as such:
Our retake scores will be compared to those of AP students who took the test in May. The retake, scheduled for August 5-12, gives us less than three weeks to prepare for a year’s worth of material (in most students’ case, for more than one class subject). The standard review time allotted during the academic year is six weeks. Forcing us to retake the examinations violates Collegeboard’s principle of equal opportunity — that “no one has an unfair advantage.” Individuals taking the retake in August are already at a huge disadvantage.
Our retake scores will NOT be an accurate OR fair representation of our abilities nor will it accurately reflect “the culmination of college-level work in a given discipline in a secondary school setting” as stated on the Collegeboard’s website.
Furthermore, Mills AP students who are out of the country or on vacation for the summer will be unable to retake the tests.
Many colleges begin curriculum in mid August to late August, and Mills 2013 graduates will be unable to travel back from their colleges for a retake. Moreover, retakers may not have access to preparatory materials such as review books, practice tests, etc. due to a variety of reasons.
ETS spokesman Tom Ewing told the Bay Area News Group some students may have gained an unfair advantage because the spacing protocol between students during the administration of the exams weren't followed.
"In situations like that it's impossible to tell one way or the other," Ewing told the paper. "That's why we had to cancel it."
According to the AP Coordinators Manual, students are not permitted to sit closer than five feet from each other during testing and are to be seated directly behind each other, facing the same directions, but not directly next to each other.
The manual, in bold, states: "Failure to follow seating requirements could result in cancellation of exam scores."
The school has scheduled meetings for 7 p.m. Monday and Wednesday to discuss the issue.