District plans overhaul of standardized test administration

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    Gunn High School school board representative senior Grace Park expressed her thoughts regarding students’ frustration of retaking AP exams in her last board meeting. “The atmosphere on campus is that students are dealing with this simply because that is the only option,” Park said. Photo by Takaaki Sagawa.

    In response to the errors in the administration of Advanced Placement exams at Gunn High School the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education is looking to implement a new five point plan to prevent mistakes in standardized testing procedures.

    Supt. Max McGee briefly outlined the procedure during a school board meeting on Tuesday.

    “Christopher Kolar [director of research and evaluation] and Janine Penney will review all testing procedure for the SAT, ACT, and AP tests,” McGee said. “Chris [Kolar] and Janine [Penney] will supervise the training of all proctors every year. There will only be one student per table and at least one certificated staff member will serve as a proctor for each exam. The administration will review the full list of proctors and their experience and cycle through individuals providing a form of a sabbatical when necessary.”

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    Supt. Max McGee briefs the audience on Gunn High School’s current situation with AP examination retakes, as well as its causes. “The mistake was self-reported to the College Board, which I think is a hallmark of integrity of Gunn High School and PAUSD,” McGee said. Photo by Takaaki Sagawa.

    In addition, McGee attended a meeting with the staff and administration of Gunn to discuss student stress in response to the rescheduled AP exams.

    “I got to hear how much everyone of those teachers was concerned for their students,” McGee said. “We continue to check-in with students, teachers and counselors on a daily basis to make sure students do have the necessary flexibility regarding their assignments, projects and tests.”

    Gunn’s student school board representative, senior Grace Park, echoed similar sentiments, but explained that most students, despite the available refund, will retake exams.

    “Over the past few days I’ve talked to many teachers and students,” Park said. “Not all, but the vast majority of teachers are being very flexible and understanding. Many students have no choice but to retake them [AP exams]. These courses serve as college credit and for some students thinking about their future, not taking it just isn’t a feasible option.”

    According to Park, Gunn’s Student Executive Council is working to reschedule events that have become annual senior traditions.

    “End of the year events have been rescheduled and the student body is coping,” Park said. “Events like the paper toss cannot be done at the usual time because seniors are scheduled to retake AP exams.”

    McGee hopes to prevent future incidents and expressed his sympathy for the Gunn students, partly compensating by offering free ice cream for students after AP exams.

    “Ice cream sundaes is our way of saying we believe in you, we are proud of you, and regret what happened,” McGee said.

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