Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:

As expected, consequences follow from College Board’s AP exams issues last week. Students are participating in a class action lawsuit against the College Board.

The Complaint
According to the lawsuit, as many as 20% of students who attempted to test in the first 3 days of AP testing last week were unable to upload their answers. College Board has claimed that fewer than 1% had issues; it’s not clear yet how either party reached those claims. In addition to uploading problems, some students were unable to log in or were timed out. The suit also raised equity issues, including concerns that low-income students might be unable to access a suitable location, device, or internet access to participate in the exams on the same footing as their higher-income peers. The College Board has faced many lawsuits in the past, including one filed in December 2019 regarding their policies on sales of student data. They plan to contest the AP testing lawsuit, as those students impacted last week are eligible to retest in June. General counsel for College Board described the lawsuit as “a PR stunt masquerading as a legal complaint.”

Lessons Learned
As we move forward into an increasingly digital learning world, the cautionary tale of AP tells us the importance of planning for equity and access issues in advance of any major shifts in programming. Students strongly requested the administration of at-home AP tests, but College Board’s updated protocols to allow emailed-in responses one week into exams suggests that not all concerns around delivery were addressed prior to the beginning of exams. Should at-home tests for ACT and SAT be necessary into the fall, it will be important that those issues are taken into account prior to testing.

In addition, ACT and College Board will have to take responsibility for technological failure (such as issues with outdated browsers or internet connection) when administering high stakes tests at home. They may be able to incorporate some lessons from other tests that have gone online this spring (like high school and graduate school entrance exams), which are using proctoring software systems as well as staggered testing windows to address some of these obstacles. The situation is still unfolding and we will continue to update you.

Be well,
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO