Mistake voids 247 Manatee students' AP test scores

- There are a lot of unhappy students in Manatee County after learning their Advanced Placement test scores won't count.  They studied for months, but an apparent oversight regarding qualifications of test proctors forced the College Board to void the test scores. 

Students who take Advance Placement, or AP, classes can take the end-of-year exams and, if their scores are high enough, they get college credits. 

Jazmin Riley is one of the students who worked all year to prepare for her AP exams. She was enrolled in the AP Language Arts class at Manatee High School.

"We didn't stop the whole year. Our teachers worked really hard to prepare us for this," she said. "The scores were just about to come out and then this note says, 'Guess what? We aren't going to get them.'"

After all their hard work, Jazmin and 247 of her classmates found out their scores don't count.

"The first reaction the kids had was, 'Is this a scam?'" said Carolyn Waygood.

Waygood's daughter found out about the error on Instagram. But unfortunately, it wasn't a mistake. The College Board canceled all exam scores for the AP Literature and AP Language classes for Manatee High.

"The kids had a lot of questions related to it. They wondered if they had done something wrong," said Waygood.

Don Sauer, who was the Manatee High principal at the time, said the students did nothing wrong. He said the mistake ultimately belongs to him. Sauer said the person supervising the test proctors had once taught the subject matter and that's a violation of College Board protocol.

"I'm just devastated for our students, staff, our school, and our community," he said. "We thought we were OK because we were supervising proctors. It was a mistake."

The impacted group of students will be given one chance over the summer break to retake the test, on June 29. The test will be given once in the morning and then again in the afternoon.

Teachers have volunteered to give up their own time and offer tutoring sessions. It's too late for some, who've already moved on to college or are out of town on vacation. 

Saur said he continues to remain in contact with the College Board and is trying to work on more solutions. Carolyn and Jazmin said they hope the district learns from this very upsetting mistake.

"They should try to prepare more and try to double check everything, triple check, quadruple check. Make sure everything is perfect before you start," said Jazmin.

Educational Testing Services, the vendor that gives the AP tests, released this statement:

"As the vendor responsible for administering the AP exams on behalf of the College Board, it is appropriate ETS comment. We are committed to ensuring the integrity of each administration and to delivering valid, reliable AP scores to students, high schools, and colleges and universities. Following testing policies and procedures is essential to ensuring a fair and standard testing experience for all students. We have worked with school officials at Manatee High School to schedule a makeup administration for affected test takers. We thank students and families for their patience and understanding."

The Manatee County School District sent this letter, signed by Saur, to parents after learning about the mishap:

"College Board has notified Manatee High School that the AP English Literature and Composition and the AP English Language and Composition exam scores have been cancelled due to a confirmed testing irregularity.  After investigation, it has been confirmed that an individual who did not meet College Board's testing protocol was in the room during the test sessions.   The school appealed this decision vigorously, provided information to support that the perceived conflict of interest did not occur and firmly believes the testing environment was not compromised.  After review, the College Board stood by the original decision to cancel scores. Manatee High School administration has worked closely with College Board to find resolution, and permission to retest has been granted.

"As a result, students have the opportunity to retest on June 29, 2017 at Manatee High School. If your student will participate in the retest, please email Katie Brown at brownk@manateeschools.net by June 21, 2017.  The exams will take place at the following times:

-AP Language and Composition:  June 29, 2017 @ 9:00 a.m.

-AP Literature and Composition:  June 29, 2017 @ 1:00 p.m.

"All students must bring a form of identification in order to be administered an exam.  Students who choose not to retest will get the AP high school credit; however, no college credit can be earned. 

"In order to provide your student with the best opportunity for success, Manatee High School will offer test prep review.  These sessions will be held at Manatee High School, Monday-Wednesday June 26-28 at the following times: AP Literature from 9:00-11:00 a.m. and AP Language from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

"I deeply apologize for the hardship and added stress that this may bring to the Hurricane students, families, and community.  Please feel free to contact Katie Brown at the email address above with any additional questions." 

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