Advanced placement exams lost

FORT FRANCES—Twelve Fort High students who wrote special exams back in May to give them a leg up at university now are faced with having to rewrite the exams—or simply accept a refund—after their original ones were lost.
“All of our exams were lost,” said Fort High principal Gord McCabe. “I’m very, very upset about this.
“I cannot put the blame squarely on ETS [Educational Testing Service] or on the shipper. . . . All I can say for sure is that they went out of here as they should have,” he noted.
ETS is the non-profit organization that administers and grades various tests and exams throughout North America, including the Advanced Placement (AP) one.
Fort High offered two AP classes for the first time during the 2005/06 school year: English Literature and Chemistry.
A total of 14 exams were lost since two of the 12 students wrote both, McCabe said.
“There’s no record. They {ETS] don’t even have our students in their database,” he remarked.
The affected students have been offered two options in light of the lost papers: they can rewrite the exams, or accept a refund of the test fee ($82).
“That knowledge is three months recessed into their minds, now,” McCabe said, noting the exams were written in May.
“The kids had prepared extensively for this exam,” he added. “The two teachers involved had run extra lunch-hour sessions with these students all the way through the second semester.”
Almost all of the students already have moved on to post-secondary school, and have been given the option of rewriting the exam at a location of their choosing so they don’t have to come back to Fort Frances.
As for the refund option, “I don’t think for any of these kids that it was about 82 bucks,” McCabe noted.
“They get a university-level course out of this,” he explained. “The extra work that they had done, we felt, was going to give them the opportunity to excel in these areas.”
Depending on university, some students may have been granted approval for a lighter course work based on the results—or even could be exempt from taking certain courses altogether.
“Now that option for them is gone,” McCabe said. “I feel that our students deserve better. I feel our teachers deserve better.”
Teachers who opt to teach AP classes receive special training. Locally, Catherine Bruyere taught the English Lit class while Connie Schwartz taught the chemistry one.
McCabe said both the teachers and students put in many hours of their own time to prepare for the finals exams, making the situation all the more frustrating.
“As a student, I’d be pretty discouraged,” he remarked. “I’ve talked to some students and some parents and they are discouraged, and rightfully so.”
Some parents have asked if the students could be given some sort of standing in lieu of rewriting the exams.
“As a testing organization, I can understand what that would do to the credibility of the AP course,” McCabe noted.
Despite the snafu, McCabe said AP remains a worthwhile program and he hopes to see it run at Fort High again next year.
“All is not lost,” he said. “They did get a credit. And I think the extra time they put in is going to prepare them for university.
“I really do strongly believe that the work that is done in the AP course really will pay dividends for these kids, regardless of the fact the exams were lost.
“There’s a lot more to the course than just the exam,” he added.
Some students opted to take the course but not write the exam, he explained. They still got a high school credit for the course, but did not receive advanced standing from a post-secondary institute.
“I think it’s a very, very worthwhile program. We are hoping it will revive itself,” McCabe said.
There was not enough interest in the AP program to run it this school year.
“A lot of kids saw how much work it was,” McCabe conceded. “This year, the numbers were just too small. We’re hoping enrolment will be enough next year [2007-08] to run again.”
(Fort Frances Times)