As a result of issues stemming from “costs associated with last summer’s investigation, retesting and related scoring activities,” Mills High School has been decertified from administering Advanced Placement tests for the 2013-14 school year by the College Board.
In letter mailed out to parents and students this week, Principal Paul Belzer wrote the school is working with San Mateo Union High School District’s office’s curriculum department and Capuchino High School to host numerous AP exams May 5-16. Capuchino is located less than two miles from Mills.
“Although I am very disappointed with the College’s Board’s decision, Mills and the SMUHSD will do everything we reasonably can to mitigate the inconvenience for students and families,” he wrote. “In addition, I will meet with all students in the immediate future to explain the situation, review all necessary procedures and the help we’ll need from all students taking AP exams.”
Back on July 17, the district reported that Educational Testing Service, which administers AP tests for the College Board, invalidated tests in 11 AP subjects taken by 286 students who took 641 tests in May 2013 because of seating irregularities. The Mills investigation stemmed from a complaint issued by a student on May 13, 2013.
Recently, state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, introduced legislation that would prevent a similar debacle, offering various solutions to prevent a similar situation, including requiring retesting happen earlier, requiring schools fill out seating charts, redefining how the test administrators decide to cancel tests and requiring standardized test providers to release invalidated test scores to colleges when there is no evidence of student misconduct.
Parents like Christine Noma, whose son is a junior at Mills, were disappointed by the news, but not surprised.
“The timing is suspect with legislation,” she said. “I don’t know whether it is in retaliation. … As long as they change the seating, there does not seem to be any type of systemic problem at Mills. The proctors are well trained and it seems totally unfair and arbitrary.”
Meanwhile, Paul Seto, a Mills parent and former Millbrae councilman, wasn’t surprised either.
“They haven’t really been fair to Mills students,” he said.
A student involved in the effort to get scores validated last summer, Brandon Ye, graduated last year, and is now a freshman at University of California at Berkeley. He said he expected something like the decertification to happen.
“I think they should have put more thought in it and given the school another chance instead of completely decertifying,” he said. “It is quite unfortunate that College Board is still continuing to cause inconvenience for students at Mills High School.”
A representative from Educational Testing Service said a thorough investigation was initiated in response to information voluntarily provided by a Mills student who complained school personnel failed to comply with specific seating guidelines. The representative also said both ETS and the College Board understood the frustration and offered retests. College Board could not be reached for comment on decertification.
The Mills Counseling Department will be hosting a College Planning Night 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 5 in the school’s auditorium, 400 Murchison Drive in Millbrae. Belzer will host a question and answer session with students and parents then.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105