Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, College Board administered an online version of the Advanced Placement (AP) exams for students to take in the comfort of their own homes. However, after several AP high school students criticized that the online version didn’t allow them to submit their answers into the system, the company was hit with a $500 million federal law class action lawsuit.
According to The Washington Post, the lawsuit was ordered by parents on behalf of the students who struggled with the new system. FairTest, The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, is a non-profit organization with an agenda to remodel standardized testing. The FairTest staff have also been collecting complaints about the tests and have joined the plaintiffs in an attempt to receive compensatory damages.
College Board, a standardized testing organization that monitors the SATs and AP exams used by students to apply for college and earn credit, directed four million AP tests this year. According to the non-profit organization, after an overwhelming 91% of AP students encouraged College Board to allow the assessment to be taken online, the company had only eight weeks to switch the standard AP test into a first-ever digital version.
The 2020 AP exams were scheduled for May 11-22 in subjects of world language, history, math, science and English. College Board officials relay within the first nine days of online testing, 93% of testers completed the assessment than in previous years.
College Board argued that less than 1% of test-takers experienced difficulty with the new version due to “outdated browsers, computer viruses, corrupted files or unreadable formats.” In an attempt for students who experience these difficulties to get another opportunity to have answers scored, College Board scheduled make-up exams for June 22-30. As an additional act of reassurance and safety from the organization, AP students retaking the exam will be given a personalized email where they can send their exam responses after the test is finished.
“Even if only 1% of test-takers could not transmit their answers because the College Board’s technology was not ready for prime time, at least 20,000 students were affected,” said Bob Schaeffer, FairTest’s interim executive director.
According to Forbes, the federal lawsuit against College Board claimed the violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, breach of contract and gross negligence. Instead of the College Board’s alternative of a make-up exam, students want their initial AP exam responses to be scored. The lawsuit was filed by Philip A. Baker and Marci Lerner Miller who are attorneys for Baker, Keener & Nahra LLP and Miller Advocacy Group in California.
According to FairTest, the College Board organization makes $480 million annually from the AP programs. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are seeking “punitive damages in an amount sufficient to punish Defendants” and prevent these misconducts in the future.
“… the College Board failed to do what was necessary to make its at-home AP exams fair and accessible. This is inexcusable in light of the unprecedented challenges faced by students and their families this year,” said Baker and Miller to FairTest.
As millions of students are finishing the remainder of the school year in their homes, it’s unclear if there will be other difficulties in the online Advanced Placement testing format.
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