The company that administers Advanced Placement exams decided Monday that the cellphone video a Gaithersburg student posted to Twitter last week before the start of an AP exam will not invalidate the tests of her classmates.
The 274 students who took the AP psychology exam Monday had been waiting to hear if their exams would be thrown out, after the school principal reported the incident to The College Board, which administers the exams.
Quince Orchard High School Principal Carole A. Working said she and her students felt “an enormous sense of relief” after hearing the news.
It is against AP exam day policies for students to have cellphones, smart phones or tablets in a testing center, and if there is misconduct The College Board may “decline ... or cancel the scores of one or more students when it determines that such actions are required to protect the integrity of the exam,” according to The College Board’s Advanced Placement guide for students and parents.
The video did not show the test, but it did show students walking down an aisle to take the test and something in bubble wrap, which may have been the test, Working said.
For confidentiality reasons, spokesmen for both Montgomery County Public Schools and Educational Testing Service, the company that handles test administration and security, said they could not reveal if the student who posted the video will have his or her test nullified.
Educational Testing Service will be communicating with the student directly, but cannot discuss matters further, Tom Ewing, spokesman for Educational Testing Service, wrote in an email.
“All that I can say further that there is a rule (which is clearly stated prior to testing), that the use of a cell phone in a testing center is grounds for dismissal and cancellation of scores. I’ll leave it at that,” he wrote.
Teachers tell students to leave their phone in their lockers or their backpacks, which are placed in a separate, secure area during testing. Before the exam, staff repeatedly remind students to put their phones away, Working said.
“It was a choice on the part of the student to hide it,” she said.
To ensure that students know the rules, The College Board sends them to students beforehand in the guide, posts them online, and instructs school personnel to tell students, according to Kathleen Fineout Steinberg, executive director of communications for The College Board.
Students are required to sign their answer sheet to indicate they have read and agree to follow policies in the guide, Steinberg wrote in an email Thursday.
Colleges that acknowledge a passing score on the AP psychology exam count the score as college credit for their social sciences requirement, in place of an introductory psychology course.
The students that took the exam that day could have potentially lost the chance for that credit, and would have been out the $89 fee for the exam.
Working said her students and others in the community may have needed this incident to realize the seriousness of the rule.
“I think cellphones are so much a part of life now, it is hard for kids to process that this is actually a moment it has to be all the way off the hip, turned off,” she said.
This may have been a teachable moment for all, Working said.
“There was a sense within the school and the community that we should review our [exam day] procedures – although I’m not sure that was the issue – to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” Working said Tuesday.