Compassionate AP Credit during COVID

California Lutheran University believed to be first in nation to enact policy that gives students who took Advanced Placement classes and registered for spring exams maximum credit.

School closures due to COVID-19 left many students in Advanced Placement classes worried if they would be able to take their AP Exams or score well on them. To further complicated matters, some students experienced technical difficulties in submitting their online AP exams. In late May, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the College Board on behalf of those students.

California Lutheran University leaders wanted to do their part to help students who have been stressed due to internet connectivity for distance learning, virtual instruction challenges, health concerns and job losses due to COVID-19. In a policy the institution believes to be the first in the nation, California Lutheran University is giving all students who took AP classes and registered for exams in spring 2020 the maximum credit, regardless of scores or test completion. The policy aims to account for COVID-19-related challenges students have faced.

Called the Compassionate AP Credit Policy, it allows qualifying students to receive a score of 5, the highest possible. Typically scores of 4 or 5 earn college credit.

“We recognize this is not a normal school year, these were not normal AP courses, and these were not normal AP tests,” said Cal Lutheran sociology professor Adina Nack in a statement. Nack had advocated for the policy along with Registrar Maria Kohnke. “University officials decided to be as compassionate and equitable as possible,” she adds.

About one-third of the students admitted to Cal Lutheran will be affected by the policy, the university reports. More than 100 students requested the exception in the first five days after it was announced May 29.

“We believe our policy best takes into account the range of public health impacts on the most marginalized high school students in the nation, many of whom didn’t have the technology or home environments needed to succeed on the 2020 online AP exams,” said Nack, a medical sociologist. “We were thinking about students who had homes without computers or internet service and those who may have been dealing with COVID-19 impacts to their families that left them without quiet places and times when they could focus on studying after their campuses were shut down.”

According to the College Board, more than 4.6 million AP Exams were started over 10 days of testing (May 11-22), across 32 subjects. Less than 1% of students reportedly had an issue submitting their responses due to issues like computer viruses, corrupted files, or unreadable file formats.

Melissa Ezarik is senior managing editor of DA. 

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