AP Exam Scores Challenged

After students received their May 2020 Advanced Placement (AP) scores in mid-July 2020, many were distressed to earn scores less than expected, and now, with their parents’ support, are appealing their scores. Student’s disappointment about their scores simply compounds an existing dismay, after enduring the multitude of technical issues during the administration of the May exams, as well as the changed format of the AP exams, which we discussed An Open Letter to The College Board About Advanced Placement Tests and Advanced Placement (AP) Outrage and AP Adversity.

The basis of the appeal of an AP exam score is The College Board‘s newly crafted (re)scoring policy for the 2019-20 AP exams is a response to the current COVID-induced disruption to education and the unorthodox home administration of the exams:

Because creating a good testing environment at home is a challenge for some students, the exam is much shorter this year.

AP teachers will have the chance to review students’ scores and exam responses this summer. If a student doesn’t receive a score of 3 or higher, and the teacher feels the exam didn’t appropriately measure the student’s qualification for college credit, the teacher will be able to engage with the AP Program’s college faculty partners to review and confirm the score, ensuring it’s fair and appropriate.

AP teachers can find more details by logging in to AP Score Reports for Educators.

The College Board

Yet the application of the rescoring policy crafted in haste by The College Board does not align with the stated rescoring policy, given the kinds of answers which can be rescored are limited.  As one mother in the Facebook group, Problems with College Board, posted: (underline emphasis added by CMC )

Free-response questions are typically the written essay responses for subjects like, AP US History or AP English Literature.  Yet, if the mother’s post is accurate, then those students who took tests with one or more written responses or like the Calculus AB, comprising only two written responses for the entirety of the exam, will not be able to appeal their score. 

In addition, students must request a review of their test answers from their teachers, yet in the same Facebook group, parents report that some teachers are unwilling to review the test answers, or are unreachable, given the extended summer break. Even when contacted, one parent posted what might be happening to other parents in relation to their attempt to work directly with teachers and/or counselors regarding AP score appeals: 

My daughter isn’t having any luck with her AP teacher. She originally responded that she does not have the students responses only their scores for AP Lit. She said she has heard there are many issues but she’s sure my daughter did her best and don’t dwell on the score and just move forward. My daughter emailed back telling her she knows she didn’t deserve a 2 and has worked too hard to not get college credit and asked if she could request a rescore on her behalf but that was last week with no further response after two attempts reaching her. The counselor had the same response, just don’t dwell on it. It’s hard not too when you are a straight A student who has completed many dual credit classes and AP exams and scored a 35 on her ACT, how does such student get a 2 on an AP test when she felt she did well on it??

Bolded emphasis added by Creative Marbles Consultancy

Yet, in attempting to quell their concerns and “just move forward”, counselors and teachers can overlook the complex reasons students take AP classes in the first place. Some students seek to earn the college credits from an exam score (typically a score of 3 or higher on the 5 point scale merits students college credits), exempting them from a general education requirement, so they can take other more interesting classes related to their academic major. Others seek college credits to reduce the expense of earning a college degree, by graduating early. 

Yet other students seek the GPA boost of the weighted academic grades automatically awarded for an AP class, in order to strengthen the competitiveness of their college applications. Now, with many high schools having implemented Pass/No Pass-style grades for Spring 2020, including AP courses, essentially denying the weighting of the AP course grade and diluting their academic performance, many students are banking on the AP score itself to differentiate their academic acumen from their peers. 

As the COVID-induced disruption continues to be a roller coaster of uncertainty in relation to the college admissions process and K-12 education, parents and students, more than ever, need credible, timely information and a responsiveness from the very educational institutions they’ve believed will help them achieve their educational goals. Without swift and decisive action, as well as consistent and fair application of policy, the risk is that the trust between families and educational institutions, like The College Board, could erode further, possibly creating an irreparable schism that may further lead to a decline in sentiment regarding the value of college


To learn more how Jill and other experts at Creative Marbles Consultancy, a full service educational advisory, help families resolve complex college admissions and educational concerns, see us at creativemarbles.com

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