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The College Board: Incompetent, Cruel, and Greedy

May 16, 2020 pm31 1:10 pm

1. The College Board routinely steals space, labor, and know-how from our public schools and local school districts for administration of Advanced Placement Exams. This year, they were not able to, and the test administration was plagued by problems. I wrote a bit about that yesterday. If they ever come back in our schools, they should be paying for the space, labor, and know-how.

2. Mercedes Schneider, a dedicated education blogger from Louisiana (I met her for a second at one of Leonie Haimson’s Skinny Awards dinners several years ago) has long been on the trail these scoundrels, and their President, David Coleman. The College Board is closely associated with its Advanced Placement Exams, as well as with the Common Core.

Mercedes has a great post, running through AP “technical glitches” mostly through student tweets, and the College Board’s pathetic responses. I’ve copied some of the good stuff, but click over there and read the whole thing. She does a great job.

Major point: the College Board goofed. They did not get enough “servers” or “band-width” and because of that kids could not upload jpegs or pdfs or photos or whatever – and worse, once they were done and clicked the button – the College Board did not accept their work.

Next major point: the College Board lied and blamed the kids, the victims, for not updating their browsers (which had worked fine during the test runs.)

Last major point: the College Board lied and said 99% of the tests went fine – omitting those who did not even try – and supplying the 99% number before they could have known – and when anecdotal responses from the field indicate a much higher incomplete or unsuccessful submission rate.

3. A Pod-caster (is that a real thing?) interviews a teacher from a school in Abu Dhabi (Nate Bowling) who make a lot of interesting points, but I pick up on three:

  • international students took the exams synchronously with US students. Students in Abu Dhabi had to sit for an exam at midnight; students in Singapore at 4AM
  • The College Board claimed that they surveyed test-takers in advance about their access to technology, and said they had an overwhelmingly favorable response. Of course they omit that only those with good access to technology responded…
  • Students who do have good access to technology, especially in poorer, crowded homes, might not have access to quiet, individual space. Imagine taking a high stakes test in a room with constant activity

4. The College Board put out big scary messages about not cheating. They get a 1*. Human proctors, trained teachers, year after year do a fine job. Districts should be compensated for their time, and for the substitutes that need to be hired. But how do I know the College Board did not do a good job? Word of mouth? Or do the cheaters leave tracks?

The double peak for angular momentum? There are two physics exams.

Some highlights from Mercedes Schneider’s tweet compendium:

sreeprakash n@sreepi My son had problem submitting Question 2 of AP Comp Sci today. I dont believe it could be browser issue or any issue with our computer when he could submit response to Question 1. This happened when there was 5 minutes left to submit.
Mary V@MedievalMaryQ 1/3 of my daughter’s class. I never took AP calc, but I’m fairly certain 33% > 1% — and every one of them had problems uploading the first question but not the second. But sure, blame the kids; no reason they should avoid extra stress right now.
Cbk@cbk1377 My son had a current browser. He was able to submit the answer to 1st question for calc bc (jpeg format) but 2nd one would not go through. Could it be your server couldn’t handle the volume of submissions at the end? Can you provide them with a backup solution to submit answers?
You should go to the blog and read them all. But I’ll end with one more:
@CollegeBoard While more than 99% of students successfully submitted their AP Exam responses yesterday, some who didn’t told us they had trouble cutting and pasting their responses. We took a closer look and found that outdated browsers were a primary cause of these challenges.

anam@lilanammanam Then why were the demos successful???

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