The organization that oversees the Advanced Placement program said Friday that face-to-face AP testing will be canceled because of the coronavirus crisis and replaced by shorter online versions of the exams that can be taken in 45 minutes at home. The College Board’s announcement reflected the extraordinary upheaval in education, with schools across the country closing in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
AP tests ordinarily take place in May. But disruptions in classes are occurring in many states, with no end in sight, posing unprecedented obstacles for teachers and students. Students will be able to take the 45-minute exams on computers, tablets or smartphones.
“To be fair to all students, some of whom have lost more instructional time than others, the exam will only include topics and skills most AP teachers and students have already covered in class by early March,” the organization said.
President Trump also said Friday his administration is waiving all federal requirements for standardized tests for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
All states have an annual federal mandate under the Every Student Succeeds Act to test students in most grades annually for accountability purposes. Some states had already declared they would not administer the tests.
“The Department of Education will not enforce standardized testing requirements, very importantly, for students in elementary through high school for the current year,” Trump said. “They’ve been through a lot. They’ve been going back and forth. Schools open. Schools not open.”
“I think a lot of the students will be extremely happy,” he said. “Some probably not. The ones that work hard — maybe not.”
Separately, the administration announced a week after promising to waive interest on federal student loans that Americans contending with the economic impact of the pandemic can opt to suspend their payments altogether.
“These are anxious times, particularly for students and families whose educations, careers, and lives have been disrupted,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement. “Right now, everyone should be focused on staying safe and healthy, not worrying about their student loan balance growing.”
For at least 60 days, the 42 million Americans holding $1.5 trillion in federal student debt can ask their loan servicer to allow them to temporarily postpone their payments. Anyone who was more than 31 days behind on their bill as of March 13, or who becomes that delinquent, will have their payments automatically suspended.
All federal student borrowers, regardless of whether they choose to postpone their payments, will automatically have the interest on their loans set at zero for at least 60 days.
The new interest rate will be retroactive to March 13.
People in public service jobs will have to think twice about postponing their payments. Opting out for two months will result in a longer path to debt cancellation for people working toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness. The federal program cancels the remaining balance of a borrower’s debt after 120 on-time monthly payments, but postponing the bill will lengthen the process.