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EDITORIAL: Admin should take responsibility for AP testing mistakes, but students should also maintain perspective

Graphic by Jackie Lou

On Tuesday, May 12, Gunn administration shocked students and parents when they announced via email that several Advanced Placement (AP) exam scores had to be cancelled and scheduled for retakes over the duration of the next two weeks—for some, the news of having to retake their test came with only a three-day notice. Currently, five AP exams have been officially rescheduled, while another six are under review by the College Board due to protocol errors and seating irregularities during the testing periods. Many students are outraged at the prospect of retaking their AP exams on such short notice, and rightly so. The students caused no problems, yet are suffering the repercussions of administrative mistakes, and with the school year coming to a close, the added stress of final assignments along with the retakes of AP exams bears heavy on a significant portion of the student body. In short, this situation could and should have been avoided by administration. However, it is important for Gunn students to move past this debacle by recognizing the full scope of the issue and proposing changes that are both feasible and beneficial to the student body as a whole.

When administration was first made aware that students sitting next to each other recieved the same versions of the exam, they made the most pragmatic decision at the time to self-report the incident. However, the issue should not have reached a point where this was necessary in the first place. The proctors of the AP exams were responsible for ensuring that all protocols and rules were properly enforced, including those of test distribution. Therefore, negligence on the part of the proctors contributed significantly to the root of the issue. Had they been more cautious and cognizant when distributing the various test versions, this situation might not have unfolded as abruptly as it did.

Still, administration played an equal, if not more severe, part in the process as well. It is evident that both proctors and administration were aware that students were required to sit five feet apart from each other, as they continually reminded students to sit as far apart from each other as possible. Although admin has cited that Gunn has been using the same seating arrangements and logistics for AP testing for the past several years, that does not excuse them from having continually violated College Board regulations. The school should not have waited until something of this caliber happened; rather, this issue should have been dealt with and resolved as soon as it was recognized.

This past week, a petition that originally called for the annulment of all final assignments and projects from classes that require retaking the AP exam garnered over 1,300 signatures from students, parents and alumni. Later, an update was made to the petition stating that students should be exempt from final assignments should they choose to do so. The Gunn community is clearly worried and angry about the extra work students will need to take on. However, to call for the annulment of all final work from a class gives partiality to certain students, leaving those students who could use the final assignments as a buffer for their grade without any other options. Students who have already started working on their projects will also have their hard work go to waste if this system is implemented. Thus, it would be in the student body’s best interest to talk directly with teachers to work out a plan for final assignments that is suited to their needs. Several meetings have already occurred between administration, students and teachers, and administration has communicated that teachers are to remain flexible and open to options with students as the process of retakes continues. Therefore, by talking with teachers directly to work out a plan, students who require measures to alleviate stress can have their needs met without affecting the entire student population.

Furthermore, statements or calls to fire administration—whether formally or informally—only due to this situation are not justified. While students have a right to be angry and voice their opinions about the failures of the administration that resulted in the invalidation of scores, they should do so within reason. At this point in the year, it is more constructive to offer recommendations for how administration can improve the retake processes rather than calling for them to be fired. Because this is a problem that is likely to not happen again, firing administration would not solve the problem, and would therefore stagnate the issue rather than resolve it.

The rescheduling and retaking of AP exams is ultimately a double-edged sword. On one hand, administration will have learned their lesson and future generations will probably not have to deal with a problem of this caliber again. However, for the current set of students taking AP exams, the disadvantages run deep. Current students bear a huge weight on their shoulders as they add another burden onto their already aching backs, and several seniors will be leaving campus with the bitter thoughts of AP exams still looming over their heads. But after stepping back and looking at the whole picture, the issue is not nearly as detrimental as it seems in the grand scheme of things. It is just as vital to address a situation as it is to move on from it, which is what students need to do now. The administration will need to continue to improve its practices and be held accountable, and students will continue to fight to ensure that this happens, as they should. With time, wounds always heal, and as Titans always do in the face of adversity, we can at least be assured that we will come out of this situation more resilient and improved than we were before.

—Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the staff (assenting: 27; dissenting: 5; abstaining: 0).

This article previously stated that a petition called for the annulment of all final assignments and projects. The article has been edited to reflect an update of the petition, which states that a student can choose whether or not to be exempt from final assignments.

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