Invalidation of Hundreds of Bay Area Students' Advanced Placement Exam Scores Prompts Bill

Legislation responding to hundreds of invalidated Advanced Placement exams because of a seating mistake at a San Francisco Bay Area high school last year seeks to stop similar problems from happening again.

While the affected students lost in a court battle, a bill approved by the state Assembly on Thursday changes how future testing irregularities should be investigated.

In May 2013, some students taking AP exams at Mills High School in Millbrae were seated at round tables, a violation of testing protocols. After a student complaint prompted an investigation, College Board, the test's publisher, announced in July that it would cancel 641 test scores. Nearly 300 students were allowed to retake the tests in August.

That prompted outrage from students who argued they were punished for the mistakes of adults. Some felt ill-prepared to retake a test at the end of summer vacation, while others already had started college.

A similar incident occurred in May when hundreds of Pleasanton high schoolers had to retake their AP exams after administrators tried to pack too many test takers into a classroom.

Students who pass and excel on Advanced Placement exams, scored on a scale of one to five, are eligible for credits for college classes.

A federal judge rejected a challenge seeking to reinstate the canceled scores because test-takers are warned that their scores can be canceled because of improper seating.

State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, subsequently introduced SB915. The bill would create an expedited timeline for investigations and subsequent new testing.

It also requires test administrators to keep a seating chart, noting the Mills High investigation was delayed and a wide range of scores cancelled because there was no documentation showing where students sat.

The bill heads back to the Senate to approve amendments after passing the Assembly on a 75-0 vote.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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