College Board Invalidates Four Marin Catholic AP Tests

By Shane Lavezzo

As the result of an administrative testing error, Marin Catholic students will be required to retake AP tests after the College Board invalidated the AP Government, AP Spanish, AP Chemistry, and AP English Literature exams.

In a now deleted Twitter photo, posted during the first week of May, Marin Catholic president Tim Navone showed students taking their AP tests in the main gym with the caption: “AP Exams in full swing. Go get’em Wildcats. #showthemwhatyouknow.” Reported to the College Board by one of Marin Catholic’s Twitter followers, this post initiated an investigation into the testing conditions provided by the administration. As explained in an email sent out by Navone, “After much questioning and information gathering, it was determined that although our tables had dividers, they were 24” short of acceptable length.” In consequence, the College Board invalidated the exams and will require a retake if students want their tests to count.

Marin Catholic students received the news Monday morning, many with reactions of disappointment, stress, and worry. “Personally the situation here has been really frustrating because it means now I have to retake my tests for both Spanish and Chemistry if I want to get scores. I hope this doesn’t reflect poorly on my college applications,” said Junior James Brock. In addition to being worried about college applications, students are also worried about how this will affect the rest of the school year academically. Fellow junior Graeme Ashley feels stressed saying, “This situation is making me study for an AP exam the week before finals week where I should be finishing up class projects and studying for final exams,” said Junior Graeme Ashley.

In response to the situation and the school’s reaction, Navone sent out an email issuing an apology to all students and parents. “Please know more than anything we realize your family is negatively affected by the mistakes we made. For that, I offer my deepest apologies and sincere promise that all testing compliance rules will be reviewed annually. I also add that in our formal appeals, we asked for any and all ways for the school to be sanctioned, not the students. Unfortunately, the result was the result,” wrote Navone.

In addition, Marin Catholic, who typically requires students to take the AP test as a part of the course, will not require students to retake the tests and is refunding the $93 fee. Although frustrated, some students were able to empathize with the administration. “I was relieved to hear the school’s response, which was appropriately apologetic,” said Brock. “In this case, the school made a mistake that we have to bear the consequences. I trust that the school did everything they could to appeal to the College Board, but there’s nothing that they could do.”

Assistant Principal Leah Herrera, one of the head testing coordinators for Tam, believes the procedure assigned by the College Board is thorough due to the packet given to all coordinators. “They tell you how to order the tests, how many proctors you will need, how to arrange the desks, what type of calculators you can have, etc.,” she said. “You name it, they prescribe it. They even have a way we have to pack up the test materials to send them back.”

Regardless of whether or not the students truly gained an advantage, there is nothing that MC can do to prevent the retaking of tests. As a result Ashley believes “Teachers should deal with the situation by being flexible and accommodating to the schedule of students taking any of the four retakes by allowing for extensions on projects and other schoolwork,” said Ashley.