Editorial: Full-length AP testing this year puts students at disadvantage

Students at Bexley have spent less time physically in school this year than ever before due to the necessary implementation of hybrid learning schedules and other precautions taken against COVID-19. Although College Board is offering both in-person and online testing, an issue that has gone unaddressed is that many schools are behind where they would be in their curriculum in a normal year. Given that this is the case for many schools across the country, it does not make sense for College Board to hold full-length AP testing this year because of how disruptive COVID-19 has been to learning and instruction.

According to data from EducationWeek, 34 states have no order in effect to open schools, with many of these states leaving decisions concerning learning models to the discretion of each school district. While districts with access to more resources and funding have been capable of implementing necessary precautions against COVID-19 to allow for a safer return to the classroom, schools in lower income districts have not had the same opportunities.

Along with this, many communities in the United States struggle with Internet accessibility. Global Citizen reports that in 2018, 24 million people didn’t have access to high-speed Internet, and over 20% of households did not have a computer. Global Citizen also reports that many of those who didn’t have solid Internet access lived in rural or low income areas. Essentially, the population of students who have spent the least time in the classroom are also most likely to struggle with Internet access, which will likely have a negative impact on their test scores.

College Board has long said that AP classes are crucial to prepare high school students for college, and some may argue that modifying the exam is not keeping with this legacy. While there’s truth to the benefits of AP courses, many colleges are removing the emphasis on testing. According to Accredited Schools Online, over the past decade, many schools have made the inclusion of ACT and SAT scores in their applications optional, suggesting that the colleges across the country are moving away from standardized tests. Given the amount of educational disruption that COVID-19 has created, it would make sense for colleges to consider them given the year it has been.

While good grades in challenging courses can create opportunities for students, both students and educators have struggled this year in navigating schooling during a pandemic. Many classes are behind schedule compared to a normal year, which means many students will pay for a standardized test that they’re not equipped to pass. To prevent this, CollegeBoard should release an abbreviated version of each AP test as opposed to the standard length, similar to what they did last year when students spent the majority of the year in the classroom.