At Home, Digital Testing Will be Default Option for AP Exams When Possible

At home, digital Advanced Placement (AP) exams will be, when possible, the default option for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) students this semester, school officials discussed during a meeting last week.

This strategy accommodates distancing, supports operational needs during reopening and builds on “lessons learned last year,” said Scott Murphy, director of MCPS College and Career Readiness and Districtwide Programs. MCPS expects to administer more than 45,000 AP exams, Murphy said. The College Board, the organization that develops and offers AP exams and the SAT, will offer three testing windows for AP exams: May 3-17, May 18-28 and June 1-11. Murphy said the College Board will offer three formats for test-taking: in-person on paper/with a pencil, in-person digitally and at-home digitally. He said test-taking options differ based on subject and testing window.

“With the 45,000 exams and many high schools being at or near capacity for in-person instruction, we have been meeting with stakeholders to ensure that there is access for students but also consider the operational safety health measures needed to successfully administer these exams in a consistent, equitable way,” he said.

Murphy reassured that The College Board has fully validated digital AP testing and ensured students will receive college credit like with traditional exams. In many cases, students will be able to choose between two test dates.

Specific world languages and music subjects require in-person AP exams and so schools will make arrangements for those tests. Murphy said in-person arrangements at local schools can be made for students with accommodations or special circumstances. Schools will also work on specific accommodations for seniors if there are conflicts with graduation, he said.

According to information presented during the meeting, students can request in-person AP testing if an optimal testing environment or optimal technology is needed. Students in special education programs or other unique situations may also request paper/pencil exams.

MCPS Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith said in the year 2000, 130,689 students were enrolled in MCPS and 7,167 AP exams were administered. This year, about 161,000 students are enrolled and more than 45,000 exams are expected to be administered.

“If you figure out the ratio, it’s not hard to tell” what’s happening, Smith said. He thanked Murphy and the college/career readiness department for their work.

As for the SAT, administration has been ongoing since September 2020 as part of The College Board’s national administration. The exam will be offered to all Grade 11 students in every high school during the school day on April 13, regardless of in-person learning status, Murphy said; April 27 will be the make-up day. These dates are set by The College Board; MCPS offers the “SAT school day” every year at no-cost to high school juniors. There will be about 200-400 students per high school, and so April 13 will be an asynchronous learning day for high school students to accommodate testing and physical distancing.

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