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Judge Sides With College Board; Scripps Ranch Grads Will Have To Take Retests

Scripps Ranch High School students and parents protest outside a meeting of S...

Credit: 10NEWS

Above: Scripps Ranch High School students and parents protest outside a meeting of San Diego Unified and College Board officials, July 6, 2017.

A judge will not grant a temporary restraining order on the College Board’s decision to invalidate hundreds of Scripps Ranch High School Advanced Placement tests. The restraining order would have forced the College Board to grade the tests and release the scores to students and their prospective colleges.

The San Diego Unified School District and a group of Scripps Ranch students and parents filed a lawsuit against the college testing nonprofit and its exam administrator, Educational Testing Services, on July 7. They allege the College Board breached its three-year, $900,000 contract with the district by not releasing the scores. The students say it could cost them thousands of dollars in lost college credit if they perform poorly on retests.

Judge Michael Anello called that claim “speculative” and noted that the College Board disclosed to students and the district it would invalidate tests in the case of a “testing irregularity.”

RELATED: How A Distance Of Two Feet Invalidated 500 AP Tests At Scripps Ranch High

“The court is certainly sympathetic to the inconvenience and frustration of parents and students,” Anello said, speaking throughout the hearing on his own testing experience while in school. “The court must respectfully deny this motion."

The case could move forward despite Friday’s decision. The district had requested an expedited hearing on the restraining order because students are scheduled to begin retesting Monday. The district’s general counsel, Andra Donovan, said district officials and their representatives would reconvene next week and decide whether to move forward.

In an emailed statement, College Board Senior Vice President of AP and Instruction Trevor Packer said:

We empathize with the students and families affected by the school’s errors, but the decision to cancel the impacted scores was not a close call. The school’s seating violations were not by inches, but by feet, and the school’s use of partitions was clearly prohibited.

This ruling affirms the difficult, yet necessary, decision that we made in order to ensure that no student has an unfair advantage. To uphold our commitment to safeguarding the integrity of AP scores, as colleges rightly expect, the College Board had no alternative but to cancel the affected tests.

The College Board invalidated the exams after an investigation into one suspected cheating incident led investigators to discover the school was using the wrong size tables. The testing protocol calls for eight-foot tables with no partitions. Scripps Ranch was using six-foot tables with partitions.

There is no evidence the 543 students whose tests were invalidated were cheating. In total, they took 844 tests.

The district initially said it would not pursue a legal challenge to the decision because there was no precedent for districts having a College Board ruling overturned. The following week, school board Vice President Kevin Beiser called for a special meeting to vote on hiring outside counsel, which the district has on retainer, to file the lawsuit. He pointed to cases in which the College Board upheld — without a legal challenge — SAT test scores potentially compromised by a testbook printing error and a fire alarm.

In court, Attorney William Low pointed to such cases and said the punishment of invalidating students’ tests did not fit the crime — an adult proctor’s mistake.

Retests will begin Monday and continue through Aug. 10.

A judge will not grant a temporary restraining order on the College Board’s decision to invalidate hundreds of Scripps Ranch High School Advanced Placement tests.

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