During the last academic year, nearly 20,000 high schools administered Advanced Placement exams and over 2 million students took at least one of them in an attempt to earn college credit through examination.  In total, there were 4.2 million AP exams given.

Since it is 2015, you may think that these tests are all multiple choice or so they can be graded by computer, but in reality they consist of essays and short answers…that are written in long-hand (not typed) and graded by people (by hand).  It is a massive undertaking to get them scored.

High school AP teachers and college professors gather in a hotel for a week and do nothing but grade one subject of AP tests.  This goes on all summer for each different exam.  Graders are broken into teams and given one question to score — over and over and over again.  One reader said she read 4500 answers to the same question throughout the week.  And the hardest part?  Reading the handwriting.  

I asked why the essays weren’t at least allowed to be typed, and the answer was “to allow for better monitoring.” Apparently it is easier to watch a room full of students taking a test with the traditional paper and pencil than to track whether or not they are straying from the appointed task when on computers.  

It seems ironic to me that respected schools are offering on-line degrees and yet the College Board would rather incur the expense and time to bring droves of professionals together in person to score essays that are written by hand.  I am glad they take the granting of credit seriously, but AP may signify antiquated processing.

Is there a method or procedure you are using that may be due for some re-thinking?  

— beth triplett

Source:  AP Open Forum

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