Emma Newman staff writer
As coronavirus restrictions become stricter, the College Board has decided to give students two different days when they can take new online AP tests. Because of these new tests, teachers have to adjust their curriculum to comply with the tested material, which will only cover what students learn up until March.
This new test, which the College Board will release updated information about on April 3, will be 45 minutes long and consist of free response questions. The test is said to be cheat-proof and adaptable to students with and without internet access. Students are generally glad that APs are continuing during COVID-19, as 91 percent of students wanted to take the APs, according to a survey conducted by the College Board.
Because Beverly is physically shut down, it is not possible for teachers to prepare students using the same methods they have in previous years. AP European History teacher Pete Van Rossum has adjusted his curriculum accordingly in order to prepare his students for the AP test, although it hasn’t been an easy transition for him.
“I’m one of those teachers who [has] been kind of dragging my feet relative to things like Google Classroom,” VanRossum said. “I’ve always been the traditional, ‘give me a marker and a white board and I’ll do my thing,’ so for me, it’s been pretty dramatic, but I’m trying to figure out online teaching.”
College counselor Casey Rowley recognizes the difficulty that teachers can face due to these large changes.
“Of course, it’s got to be hard for a teacher who would be expecting to be in a classroom with a student every day, but there’s a lot of resources and the nice part is that you have had a bulk of your learning in the classroom for a semester,” Rowley said.
Due to a lack of in-person teaching, the College Board had created videos and support systems to help students prepare. In addition, many teachers, including Van Rossum, are using video chats to teach their students face-to-face.
Dustin Seemann, assistant superintendent of educational services, appreciates the work teachers like Van Rossum have done to accommodate for these new changes.
“Our teachers have been very positive in the change,” Seemann said via email. “Due to safety and security of our staff and students, we knew there needed to be a change in the testing and delivery of instruction.”
While Rowley and Van Rossum recognize the work that the College Board and teachers are doing, they still have one looming concern: cheating.
The College Board said that they will use online tools to make sure no tests are plagiarized. But while the tests are designed to be more difficult to cheat on, it is unclear what exactly the College Board plans to do to prevent compromised tests.
“They seem to be pretty confident in the information I’ve heard so far, but I certainly would have concerns,” Van Rossum said. “How do you deal with a person standing in a corner feeding answers to a student that doesn’t show up on a video screen?”
Van Rossum thinks that the college board is “doing the best they can.” However, he also believes that their plan is not detailed enough to warrant confidence.
Despite these concerns, Seemann says that he has no current worries about the AP exam.
“At this time I have no concerns,” he said. “I know that our AP teachers are doing their very best to prepare our students for these changes in curriculum and delivery of the exam.”
Because this is uncharted territory, Rowley thinks that the new tests will not negatively affect college admissions.
“If anything, colleges are really amenable and flexible to students,” Rowley said. “They recognize that this is a global pandemic and that it’s just gonna affect the way admissions look.”
Seemann also believes that the colleges will be accommodating during this time period.
“Our college/university partners have been very supportive in understanding our challenges,” Seemann said. “They are faced with the same challenges.”
Rowley also emphasized, in general, APs will not determine that much in terms of college admissions.
“AP testing has never had a massive role in admissions decisions separately, so most of the admissions decisions are based off of your grades, your classes and your SAT and ACT,” Rowley said. “The AP test is always a nice added bonus.”
The new system of AP testing varies from what teachers, students and colleges are used to, but Van Rossum chooses to think of the experience as a necessary step.
“It’s a little bit of an adventure in a way,” Van Rossum said. “It’s certainly completely different. Is it ideal? No, but it is what you make it and we’re doing the best we can. We’ve got to move forward.”