Hundreds of Quince Orchard High School students who took the Advanced Placement psychology exam Monday may have their tests ruled invalid after a student recorded a cellphone video at the testing center and posted it on Twitter.
Principal Carole A. Working reported the incident to the College Board, which administers AP exams and is reviewing the case.
It is against exam-day policies for students to have cellphones, smartphones or tablets in a testing center, according to the College Board’s Advanced Placement guide for students and parents. If there is misconduct, the College Board may “decline . . . or cancel the scores of one or more students when it determines that such actions are required to protect the integrity of the exam.”
The student’s video did not show the test at the Montgomery County school, but it did show students walking down an aisle to take the test and something in bubble wrap that may have been the test, Working said.
Tom Ewing, a spokesman for the College Board and Educational Testing Service, the company that handles test administration and security, wrote in an e-mail that “ETS is still reviewing the case, but it appears that the security of the AP test about to be taken was not compromised but rather there was a violation against the use of cellphones in any capacity within the testing center.”
Working said she and the 274 students who took the test that afternoon are “very concerned” as they wait to hear from the company.
“We don’t know [how] the College Board will consider this,” she said Friday. “Potentially as nothing, and that would be a very good outcome.”
Colleges may award credits for high scores on AP exams, so students who took the psychology exam at Quince Orchard could receive college credit for an introductory psychology course if the College Board certifies the exam.
If the board decides against accepting the results, students could lose the chance for credit — and be out the $89 exam fee.
If misconduct is discovered, students may be given an opportunity to retake the exam, the AP guide states.
Working said the student who shot the video is upset. The principal believes the issue is more common than many people expect, because many students are attached to their phones.
Still, the rules are clear, she said.
Teachers tell students to leave their phones in their lockers or their backpacks, which are placed in a separate, secure area during testing. Before the exam, staff members repeatedly remind students to put their phones away, she said.
“It was a choice on the part of the student to hide it,” she said.
To ensure that students are informed of the rules, the College Board sends them a guide containing the rules before the test, posts the rules online and instructs school personnel to tell them to students, according to Kathleen Fineout Steinberg, executive director of communications for the College Board.
Students are required to sign their answer sheets to indicate that they have read and agree to follow policies in the guide, Steinberg wrote in an e-mail Thursday.
Working praised the students who reported the issue. She said she hopes for a “quick and fairly sensible decision.”
“We have done what we are supposed to do, in good faith,” she said. “We hope for the best.”