MCPS must have all AP exams in person

MCPS must allow students to take AP exams in schools during May to ensure that students will do their best on these exams.

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MCPS must allow students to take AP exams in schools during May to ensure that students will do their best on these exams.

The College Board recently announced that AP exams will be given in three separate administrations. The first administration is the normal one, occuring during the first two weeks of May. Those exams will be given in schools, on paper. The second administration is also on paper and in schools, but will take place in the last two weeks of May. The third and final administration will take place in the first two weeks of June, and the exams will be at home, online.

It is the job of school districts to decide which administration to offer their students; as such, it is critical that MCPS open schools for all AP exams in May. The decision to administer exams online last year was understandable. Even with the uncertainty of the new pandemic, the College Board responded adeptly. They shortened the exams and made them practical for an at-home setting.

But this year, the exams will not be shortened for those taking them during the online administration. While perhaps slightly adapted, the tests will be analogous to the traditional, multi-hour exams. Those grueling hours will be spent staring at a screen.

The date of the third administration does not take school calendars into account. Seniors will be gone by June, and juniors along with underclassmen will want to be done with work by then. AP courses themselves are designed to be finished several weeks before the typical May AP exam, and the beauty of them is that once they’re in the past, the content of the class is done. You work on projects, you watch movies — it’s a fun atmosphere especially after a year of rigorous work. Administering exams as late as the last week of school will cause students to spend more time studying, keeping them from getting into the summer routine — one that is well earned after a year of online school.

Finally, it is safe to have exams in school buildings. SATs and ACTs have continued to be administered successfully during the pandemic. In fact, an SAT will be administered at WJ on April 13. In addition, MCPS has already opened up elementary schools and in less than a month seniors will be back in their schools. So, why not let students take the exams in schools? If it’s safe for students to be in schools for six-plus hours, then it’s surely safe for them to take two to three hour exams.

If MCPS wants students to succeed in AP exams then they need to administer them in May and they need to administer them in the schools.

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