After a year of remote learning, AP exams and standardized tests begin


Photo courtesy of: lecroitg/Pixaby

After three quarters of remote learning, students begin state testing from April 19 to April 27. WHHS will administer the English 7, English 8, ELA 10, Math 7, Math 8, Algebra 1, Geometry, Science 8, Biology and American History AIR tests.

Testing season is upon many WHHS students. From required standardized tests to AP testing and big end-of-the-year assessments, the upcoming weeks can be a stressful time. 


During these last two school years, both standardized and AP testing have been drastically different than previous years. In the spring of 2020, the Ohio General Assembly passed emergency legislation canceling the administration of Ohio’s state tests. College Board made the decision to administer 45-minute, free-response AP exams students took at home. Their decision created an intense debate on both sides. 


While taking the digital AP exams, students faced numerous challenges including uploading photos in the wrong file format and submission issues. After having almost a year to plan how to approach AP testing while accommodating students learning fully remotely, fully in-person and blended, College Board has come up with both pencil and paper and digital options. 


“Here at Walnut, we’re not confident in the online platform,” WHHS testing coordinator Maria Horn said. “While it seems like it will be better than what they kind of threw together in an emergency situation last year, I think they learned from that experience and I think it will be better.” 


Unlike last year when there was only one window of testing dates for all AP exams, the exam schedule has been updated to provide three different administration schedules. These dates range from the start of May to the middle of June. 


The first administration schedule is for at-school exams only. The second and third schedules provide in-person and at-home options. WHHS has opted to choose the latest exam choice for the pen and paper test for all AP courses except for students in foreign language AP classes. The AP exam dates are May 3 to 14, May 17, 21, 24 and 25. 


All AP students at WHHS will take the AP exam in person with the exception of a few who have serious health concerns with respect to taking an in-person exam. Those students will be offered a digital version of the exam to take from home. 


“I don’t think there are any drawbacks [to choosing the latest date],” Horn said. “I think it’s an advantage for everyone to take the later tests because they have more time to prepare, teachers have more time to cover the content in a year, where there was fairly limited instruction time.” 


A limitation to the digital AP exam is that students will not be able to go back to previous questions. If they come across a question they are unsure of they’ll have to guess and move on. This will also prevent them from being able to check their work at the end of the test and affect time management throughout the exam. 


“We’ve made decisions that prioritize the health and safety of educators and students while preserving opportunities for motivated students to earn college credit,” College Board wrote on their website. 


As for standardized state tests, last spring Ohio’s testing requirements were waived however this year they will be required by federal and state law. They have given schools flexibilities described on the Ohio Department of Education’s website as “extending test windows and making the American history test-optional for the current school year.” 


Students in the following course who are attending school in-person will be taking the English 7, English 8, ELA 10, Math 7, Math 8, Algebra 1, Geometry, Science 8, Biology and American History state tests during the bell they have the course(s). From April 19 to April 27 all students, testing or not will follow this testing schedule


Students who have chosen the concurrent learning option are only being asked to come in and take the Algebra 1 and English 10 tests which are linked to graduation. 


They will test during the testing block corresponding to the bell they have the course in or during a testing block when they have a study hall. Testing for concurrent learning will take place in the Junior High Gym, not in classrooms to allow maximum spacing between students. 


“They’ve chosen remote for a reason and we want to honor that reason,” Horn said. “So we’ll be testing them in a more spaced-out environment than the classrooms would be if they were to join their other classmates.”


Standardized test results are no longer being mailed home to families. It takes about eight weeks for results to come to WHHS however students can expect to receive their reports during the 2021-2022 school year next fall. 


Although all state tests can be taken again, students taking Algebra 1 or English 10 may be required to retake their end-of-course tests which are required for graduation. Standardized testing scores are included at the bottom of transcripts. 


“Anybody can volunteer to retake the test, but there are only certain testing windows, right now is a testing window for state testing,” Horn said. “There’s one in July in the summer, and there’s one late first semester in December.” 


Some families have raised concerns regarding students being overwhelmed with tests just weeks after switching to in-person or concurrent learning. Most haven’t taken an in-person test in almost a year now so they anticipate struggling academically upon the return to school. 


“I know state testing feels kind of overwhelming to come back into the school and now we have to do state testing and for those in AP exams right after that you have to do AP exams,” Horn said. “It’s kind of just the way it is. The way things happened on the timeline of COVID… it’s kind of unfortunate but that’s the reality.”