Major Changes in 2020 AP Exams While ECE Classes Hope to Finish Off Year

Owen Seltzer, Layout Editor, Reporter

With the relatively sudden closure of the majority of schools across Connecticut and the United States, there are many questions regarding how college credit programs will proceed, including the Advanced Placement (AP) program from the CollegeBoard and Early College Experience program (ECE) run by the University of Connecticut. Decisions on how the programs will proceed are being made by administrators at the highest levels of the programs, and while the coronavirus situation across the United States is still ever-changing, so is the fate of these college credit programs for the rest of the school year. That being said, here is what is known so far.

In light of the virus, the CollegeBoard has announced that traditional face-to-face exams will not be taking place this year. Instead, students will be able to take a 45-minute free-response exam online in their own homes. For each AP subject there will be two testing dates, one in May and one in June, giving students the option of taking the exam while the information is fresh or giving them the option to study longer. Exams will only cover topics that most teachers will have covered by the beginning of the month of March and the tests will be open note.

The first reaction of many is on how the CollegeBoard will limit cheating on the exams. To maintain testing integrity, the CollegeBoard has said that a range of digital security tools and techniques will be used, such as plagiarism detection software, to prevent cheating. Exam questions will also be designed and written in ways that prevent cheating as well.

The CollegeBoard is also making a range of resources available to teachers and students to help facilitate learning. From March 25 onwards there will be free, live AP review courses given by AP teachers all across the country. Most of the courses will focus on reviewing the first 75% of the course and the information that will appear on the tests. In addition, free-response questions that were previously available only for in-classroom use will now be unlocked for teachers to give to students as practice.

For ECE classes, the future holds many questions. In an email to ECE students, Director Brian Boecherer said that the UConn Office of Early College Experience recognizes that many schools across the state are closing, some without the capacity to host effective virtual learning platforms for their students. He said that if there is any way a course can be finished off for the year, the office would be sure to make that happen. If it is not possible for the credit to be delivered, a refund for the course will be issued to students. Furthermore, it will not be possible to take the course as a pass/fail course. He also added that all student events connected to UConn ECE are officially cancelled until further notice. Waterford’s ECE classes will continue as normal in the online setting for now.

Waterford High School AP Statistics teacher Mr. Bassett expressed his happiness with the CollegeBoard’s decisions given the fact that most of the country will not be able to take the exams in person saying, “Instead of wasting an opportunity, they have created a new testing setting that will allow students to still earn college credit. With the daily changing landscape that COVID-19 has done to our everyday life, I feel that CollegeBoard is making the best of a bad situation.” Guidance counselor Mrs. Chen weighed into the conversation saying, “I am an optimistically pessimistic type person. I always ask myself and students to do more ahead of time just in case of rainy days. If you did, changes to AP and ECE really doesn’t affect you much… It will be ok in the end; if it is not ok, it is not the end.”

With experts saying that the cases of coronavirus across the United States have not yet reached a peak, it appears as though students will not be returning to school anytime soon. Since the virus is unpredictable, so is the future of these college credit classes for students this year. The only way to know for certain what will happen is to wait and see.