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by Terri Hogan
Senior Staff Writer
A missing batch of Advanced Placement, or AP, exams has left more than 50 Sherwood High School students and their parents angry and frustrated.
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) spokesman Derek Turner said Sherwood learned from the College Board that the organization was unable to locate 53 multiple-choice sections from AP exams taken at the school in May.
“UPS tracking data shows all of the material sent from Sherwood arrived with the College Board,” he said. “Sherwood searched their testing room and confirmed missing items were not at the school.”
Turner said MCPS is working closely with the College Board “to help find a meaningful resolution to this upsetting situation.”
He added, “We are as disappointed as the students who will not get to see the fruits of their labor on this test.”
Advanced Placement (AP) is a program created by the College Board that offers college-level courses and examinations to high school students. Colleges and universities may grant placement and course credit to students who obtain high scores (usually a 4 or 5 out of a possible 5) on the examinations.
The tests were offered in a variety of subjects. Sherwood students report missing scores on AP AB Calculus, AP Physics and AP Music Theory exams. Some students had missing scores on more than one exam.
The AP AB Calculus exam consisted of two parts — multiple-choice and free response.
Scores were supposed to be available online July 1, but when the students logged on, their scores were not posted.
Students and their parents began making calls to the College Board, but said they were told not to worry and to keep checking back.
On Aug. 11, as many of Sherwood’s recent graduates were preparing to leave for college, they received a letter from Educational Testing Services (ETS) on behalf of the College Board, stating they were unable to locate the multiple-choice portion of the test.
ETS develops, administers and scores the tests for the AP program.
The letter offered two options — a chance to retake the test at no additional cost or students could cancel the test and receive a refund of the $93 they paid to take the test.
Parents said that neither of the options is, acceptable, since seniors who took the test are already off to college and for the juniors, retaking the test would require a great deal of preparation at a time when they have other courses to study for and college applications to complete.
“Retaking the test in October or November is not an option,” said Kelly Weigand, whose daughter, Maggie, is now a senior. “These kids haven’t picked up the book since early May.”
On Aug. 25, students received another letter from ETS, offering a third option of a projected score.
Jaslee Carayol, associate director of media relations at College Board, said a projected score can be determined because they have the results from at least half of the test. They also factor in scores from all of the students who took the test in 2017.
Students and parents say they find that option equally unacceptable.
Weigand said her daughter has checked with five colleges to which she is considering applying and none will accept a projected score.
There is also doubt about the accuracy of the projected scores.
Matthew Toven, a senior, took AP AB Calculus last school year. He received an A in the class and took several AP Calculus practice exams, all resulting in a 5, the highest possible score.
According to the letter he received from ETS, his projected score is a 2.
“Obviously, all those hours of hard work were wasted,” he said. “I was excited to take the AP test since I got a 5 on the practice tests and it was a good opportunity to get college credits. The projected score doesn’t accurately represent what my score would have been.”
Toven said students do not take AP courses unless they plan to take the test.
“If colleges see that you took the class but have no test score, they are going to think you did bad on the test,” he said.
Bill Nolan said the ordeal has been traumatizing for his daughter, Meghan, who just began her freshman year at Northeastern University.
“She is an A student and has always worked very hard,” he said. “In fact, AP gave her an award for having so many 5’s on her AP exams.”
Meghan’s projected score on her AP AB Calculus exam was a 3.
“This is a problem,” he said. “She worked all year for nothing. She was fully expecting to get credit for that course. Now she will have to shift her college schedule around because this is an extra class she has to take.”
“Seeing tears in her eyes over this was devastating,” Nolan said. “I am very angry.”
Nolan said the reaction of the College Board when he called frustrated him even more.
“I got the cold shoulder,” he said. “They just didn’t care.”
Beth Toven, mother of Matthew Toven, agreed.
“They won’t talk to us,” she said. “If I do get them on the phone, they laugh or hang up on me.”
Principal William Gregory said the school is continuing to work with the College Board about the missing tests.
“We are definitely not putting the blame on Sherwood,” Weigand said. “Sherwood definitely sent the tests and the College Board is not taking responsibility.”
She and several other parents said that the only acceptable outcome would be for the College Board to cover the costs of the college course or give the students a score of a 4 or 5 based on other factors such as their course grade.
“More importantly, I want the College Board to admit they lost the exam,” Weigand said. “They need to take full responsibility. This has caused a lot of anxiety for students who have worked really hard.”
At least one parent is looking into hiring an attorney.
Matthew Toven’s schedule for his senior year includes four AP courses.
With less than a week to go before classes begin, Beth Toven said they were reconsidering taking those courses.
Terri Hogan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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