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Nordic News

The student news site of Inglemoor High School

Nordic News

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Point/Counterpoint: Should Inglemoor have made in-person IB and AP testing mandatory this year?

On+March+15th%2C+it+was+announced+that+IB+exams+will+be+cancelled+for+the+May+2021+testing+season+and+AP+exams+will+be+taken+online.+Art+by+Kath+Shelden.+
Kath Shelden
On March 15th, it was announced that IB exams will be cancelled for the May 2021 testing season and AP exams will be taken online. Art by Kath Shelden.

Point/Counterpoint: Should Inglemoor have made in-person IB and AP testing mandatory this year?

 

Yes, in-person IB and AP tests should have been mandatory this year 

Kath Shelden

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Inglemoor’s AP testing was moved online and IB external examinations were modified completely during the 2020 testing season. Inglemoor announced in an email to students on March 15 that IB and AP exams would not be held in-person this year, with the exception of AP math and science exams. One of the biggest issues that Inglemoor had to consider was whether it will be safe enough to require in-person IB and AP testing by May of 2021. They also had to consider the fact that other schools around the country and world have decided to hold in-person IB and AP testing this spring. Their students won’t have to worry about online accessibility problems or technical errors while testing, giving them an advantage over Inglemoor students, who will now be taking testing online or not at all. Taking this into account, it is clear that in-person IB and AP testing should have been made mandatory this May. In-person IB and AP testing would ensure that students don’t face accessibility problems or technical issues during testing that could negatively impact performance. 

Many schools around the country have gone back to in-person learning and will be able to hold in-person IB and AP exams this spring. By April 19, all Washington State schools must give students the option to return to in-person learning for at least 2 days a week, as stated by Governor Jay Inslee in an emergency proclamation live streamed by King 5 on March 12. Online learning has forced many teachers to alter their curriculum and has made it difficult for students to receive the best quality of education this year, so students who have been able to go back to school in person have received a higher quality of education than those who remain online. These students have a higher likelihood of performing well on their IB and AP tests. The return of in-person learning at Inglemoor will enable students to better prepare for their IB and AP tests and would make in-person testing much more practical. Furthermore, students who attend schools that are administering IB and AP tests in person are more likely to perform well than those who will have to take exams online because they won’t have to worry about technical issues during testing. Since Inglemoor will already be transitioning back to in-person learning this spring, they should have required that students take their IB and AP exams in-person in order to avoid technical problems and issues with accessibility.

One of the main concerns regarding in-person IB and AP testing is the safety of students and staff. The percentage of positive COVID-19 test results has been steady in King County since December 2020 with a slight increase due to lower testing numbers in recent weeks, and the number of vaccinations has been increasing since January 2021. According to the Washington State Department of Health, more than 737,000 vaccine doses have been given in King County and at least 240,000 people have been fully immunized. 19.34% of King County is currently in the process of getting vaccinated and 11.14% is already fully vaccinated. Additionally, Washington still has a mask mandate and social distancing guidelines in place. The safety of staff and students during in-person testing could have been ensured with proper preparation and enough notice.

Last year, students around the country experienced problems when submitting answers during online AP exams. When students spoke about these issues on social media, CollegeBoard refused to take accountability and told students to retake the tests at a later time. If Inglemoor is going to administer AP exams online this year, they will have to ensure that all participating students have the technology to take the tests online, that students with learning disabilities are given proper accommodations, and that all students have access to reliable Wi-Fi. Although Inglemoor may be able to guarantee these things to their students, they cannot guarantee that students won’t experience problems submitting answers like they did last year. To ensure that students have an equal opportunity to succeed and that those who need accommodations are given them, IB and AP exams should have been held in-person this year. 

There are of course many valid concerns regarding mandatory in-person IB and AP testing this spring, but in-person testing would have been the best option for students and administrators. In-person testing ensures accessibility and familiarity for students. If in-person IB and AP testing could have been held safely and was accessible to all students required to take it, it should have been mandatory this spring.

 

No, in-person IB and AP exams should not have been mandatory this year 

Minita Layal

This March marks the one-year anniversary of COVID-19-related shutdowns in Washington state and in many parts of the country. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the pandemic has taken its toll — students, staff members, and families have all been under incredible stress for the better part of a year as our community has struggled to adjust to this new normal. Though schools have, for the most part, risen to the challenge of educating their students virtually, there have still been numerous challenges that have greatly impacted students’ learning and mental health. 

 AP exams will now be held virtually and IB exams have been modified, with students receiving scores based on predicted grades. Bearing in mind the toll that the last year has taken on staff and students, Inglemoor’s decision to not hold in-person exams was the most rational course of action that could have been taken considering the circumstances. 

Perhaps the biggest and most obvious reason that in-person IB and AP tests should not be taken this year is the risk posed by the pandemic. Despite the fact that teens and young adults are less likely to require hospitalization due to COVID-19, a study conducted by JAMA Internal Medicine showed that, of 3,000 adults aged 18-34 who were hospitalized with the virus, 21% ended up requiring extensive medical attention and 10% needed to be put on a ventilator. While masks and social distancing have been proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the discovery of several new COVID-19 variants that could potentially be more deadly or contagious means that even more precautions would have had to be taken if exams were to be conducted in-person, especially as the majority of students would not have be vaccinated by May. Though staff members should be vaccinated by May, the threat of exposing family members to COVID-19 is still ever present, and not holding in-person exams would significantly reduce that threat. 

Another factor that must be taken into consideration is the mental health of students and staff. Both students and staff have had to contend with prolonged isolation from family, friends, and other support systems for a year, which has had a major impact on stress and anxiety levels. It is no surprise that the tumultuous events of the past year have impacted students to the point where it is difficult to concentrate on schoolwork. Although hybrid learning is set to begin on April 19th, not everyone will choose to go back in-person and being away from other teachers and students for a year will cause enough stress without having to take exams as well. In addition to the potential social anxiety in-person testing will cause, anxiety about the pandemic and being in close quarters with other students and staff would most likely have affected test performance. Having virtual tests or modifying them will do a lot to ease the worries of students who have already had to cope with so much during this school year.

Accessibility is another pressing concern that may affect how students perform on IB and AP exams. In previous years, exams were taken during the school day while all students were present, eliminating many accessibility problems that came with taking the exams. Many students taking these exams cannot drive, do not have a car, or have family members who work during the day and cannot take time off to drive them to and from school to take exams. Taking public transportation during a pandemic can be an uncomfortable choice for students as well. 

Conducting exams online is a far better solution than taking them in person. While this is by no means a perfect solution, as illustrated by last year’s virtual AP exams, it is at least possible for all students to get laptops and hotspots from Inglemoor to take the exams at home. In terms of IB exams, it is likely too late for the IBO to develop online versions of the exams that students will be able to take with ease; in this case, it was best to modify the exams altogether since a safe and effective online solution cannot be created in time. 

Making in-person AP and IB exams mandatory this spring was not a feasible option and would have ultimately had a negative impact on students and staff members. The 2020-2021 school year has been fraught with many unique challenges that no one was prepared for, and modifying and moving exams virtually is an important step that Inglemoor has taken to lessen stress and anxiety.

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About the Contributor
Minita Layal
Minita Layal, Web-Editor-in-Chief
Senior Minita Layal is the Web-Editor in Chief of Nordic News for the 2020-2021 school year. Her goal is to continue providing the student body and community with relevant, impactful and informational content. She is also excited to expand the website to keep the community informed. Outside of Nordic, you can find her as a full IB student or reading any number of books. Her interests include creative writing, history, and political science

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Point/Counterpoint: Should Inglemoor have made in-person IB and AP testing mandatory this year?