by Evan Newman
June 6, 2020
Ah, College Board, the people who have somehow managed to make a bunch of kids want to pay money, and lots of it, for tests. Very, very long tests. While quarantine has been a rough period for everyone around the world, the College Board may have it a little worse right now.
For those of you who somehow don’t know what the College Board is, it’s a nonprofit organization founded back in 1900 as the College Entrance Examination Board with the mission to make the college application process more efficient for students and universities. They planned to solve problems with the chaotic system that had been in place before their creation, and to create an entrance exam for all students that all colleges could use as they wished for administering students. Since then, they have introduced a few standardized tests as a means of testing a student’s aptitude for different subjects so colleges know how well a student will likely learn in their classes. These tests continued to change and evolve over time, and eventually became the tests we all know and take today. A few fan favorites of their tests are the SAT and ACT. However, recently, the College Board has been conducting controversial actions for this year’s AP exams. To accommodate for the fact that quarantine would facilitate cheating on the regular AP exams, the College Board set about creating new exams for each AP class they offer. However, they ended up messing up a few things.
The new AP exams consisted of a fifty minute online test that would have a smaller number of questions that would take more time to solve or one or two writing prompts. However, many students and parents thought that this style of testing was unfair, as judging a student’s proficiency with a subject based on one or two questions is not a fair assessment of their skill. This was not helped by the fact that many students reported trouble uploading responses and were told they would have to wait until June to retake each exam they could not submit. So they sued. For a lot. The parents of the students who could not submit their tests in California filed the lawsuit and brought in the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), an American education organization that works to end the misuse of standardized tests, as one of the plaintiffs for the charges.
FairTest pressed multiple charges against the College Board: “breach of contract, gross negligence, unjust enrichments and other offenses,” according to Washington Post columnist Jay Matthews who wrote an article on the lawsuit. In essence, the College Board is being sued for putting out rushed and unfinished tests instead of the original tests that the students paid for. FairTest is demanding that the College Board pay 500 million dollars to compensate the students, however the College Board’s finances have been suffering recently as a result of pushing out all new tests.
However, the charges are not the only thing the College Board has been recently accused of. The following events are more conjecture and conspiracy than hard fact, and little can be determined from community gathered evidence just yet. Just before the first few AP tests, a subreddit was created to post and share AP exam answers during the tests so students could cheat. The user, dinosauce313, shared their plan about how they wanted to pull off this cheating stunt, as the College Board has a history of harshly reprimanding any student who talks about any test content on social media.
However, the way that dinosauce123 talked about the plan was, as many other users found, somewhat suspicious to say the least. To start, a few redditors discovered that the account dinosauce313 was created shortly before the AP exams, and while all other AP answer subreddits and other online groups have been taken down and reported, this subreddit still exists at the time that I am writing this. In the subreddit. the user posted a long FAQ detailing how students could post and share answers and communicate with each other. I don’t know about all students, but I most definitely would not make such a long post about anything, let alone cheating on an exam. In addition, the user has been attempting to solicit AP id photos from students, which allow the students to take the exams. Sharing these ids can result in an invalidated score and being reported to colleges. So, a few users on reddit traced where the user posted from using a grabify link, and the location turned out to be in Ashburn, Virgina, close to the College Board headquarters.
While these pieces of evidence alone do not prove the connection between the thread and the College Board, some students began spreading the information about the subreddit, and some implicated the College Board as being the user behind dinosauce123. As such, the College Board was accused of trying to fail students with fake answers. Still, the situation has very little hard evidence on the matter and it still impossible at the moment to tie the College Board to the subreddit and dinosauce313.
The College Board has successfully dug a very deep grave for themselves this spring. During what had turned into an awful spring for many students, the College Board only created more problems and are suffering the consequences of their choices. But, if there is one good thing that the College Board did for us, it’s that there’s no longer a quota for how many students can receive a certain score on their exams, so while College Board fights to not pay the 500 million dollar compensation, every student who took the exam can relax a little knowing they have a better chance this year of receiving a 3, 4, or 5 on their exams.