In just a few weeks, some 3 million American high school students will begin taking Advanced Placement (AP) Exams in spite of the disruption of COVID-19. When most schools closed in March 2020, the College Board offered shortened AP Exams exclusively in an online format. This year, the College Board is offering full-length AP Exams in two formats: one paper-and-pencil exam to be administered at schools and another digital exam, which can be taken either in school or at home.
In spite of the College Board’s efforts to offer students a variety of options to take the exams, a new poll conducted by Marco Learning shows that an overwhelming majority of teachers (almost 68%) did not believe that this year’s exams were more “equitable or fair” than the 2020 AP Exams. The poll was circulated among more than 1,100 AP teachers and students from April 12 to 14 and found that only 15% felt that AP Exams are more equitable this year, while 11% felt the exams were “about the same” and 6% indicated that they were “unsure.”
Many teachers cited the differences between the digital and paper-and-pencil exams and challenges faced throughout this school year. Initially, the College Board required webcams for digital test-takers, but changed course after a backlash online from teachers and students. Viral videos on the Marco Learning TikTok account racked up some 10 million views in the past few months with tens of thousands of comments from students who expressed their frustration with the exams.
“Whenever you make a testing system more complex or change the rules in the middle of the game, you exacerbate inequities among students. This year’s exams have the most complex schedule and set of regulations I have ever seen for a standardized testing program. It’s no wonder people believe they are less fair,” said John Moscatiello, the founder and CEO of Marco Learning and a high school teacher in New Jersey.