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The real lesson for vulnerable teens

May 23, 2020

If you’re an impressionable, highly-strung, high achieving 15 to 18 year old, this AP ‘exam’ season has been stressful. I get it, I really do. I’ve been in this game (and a MUCH, MUCH, MUCH higher stakes version of it in the UK) for 30 years, and I have two children of my own, one of whom happened to be a graduating high school senior in 2020. So in short, I understand. However, I’ve got news for you.

If you were a participant of any kind in the the utter charade that was the 2020 AP ‘exam’ season, whether that be a teacher, student, administrator, or any other person that ‘bought in’, then you you’d better be willing to take some much bigger lessons away from the experience than those that are confined to being ‘special’ because you got caught up in this mess through no fault of your own. If you had problems during the ‘exams’, did you ‘deserve it’? Likely not, BUT here’s the thing.

There are around six or seven threads that make these exams utterly illegitimate. They have titles such as “money”, “equity”, “technology/uploading”, “academics”, “cheating”, “fair scoring/standardization”, “time differences”, “ESOL” etc. Within EACH of those threads, there are six or seven further reasons, that on their own are each good enough to make the whole process worthless. Despite the wide choice, I have usually focused on a single one of those reasons, i.e., the ABSOLUTE and COMPLETE inability of the CB to monitor who the student was communicating with during the ‘exam’. As a result, these (in themselves essentially non-standardizable without the MCQ’s) scores, will be awarded to the student PLUS their mom, dad, sibling, tutor, teacher, classmate, and other helpers. The process is worth nothing, and we knew that prior to it starting. The CB should be ashamed of their choice of approx. $480 million (2019 AP income) over integrity. At the very moment any participant in this charade decided to eschew integrity, all bets were off, sorry. You lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.

The saving grace here is that the 2020 scores are ALL UTTERLY meaningless, but there is a great lesson to take away for vulnerable teens. Agreeing to take a ‘$ over integrity’ path is a choice that also has a price. One that might just lead you to end up on the wrong end of things. THAT’S the lesson that you should take forward from your experience, NOT one about ‘resilience’ or ‘conquering adversity’.


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