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The College Board: Inept at Accommodating Injured Students

June 12, 2016

The following is a guest post by New York student, Avery Kim, who is battling not only the consequences associated with suffering her third concussion but also the testing nonprofit, the College Board, over its apparent unwillingness/inability to modify its policies to accommodate students suffering injury in the days prior to being scheduled to sit for a College Board test.

Avery Kim  Avery Kim

Avery Kim, 16, lives in New York City and is a filmmaker, photographer, writer, and multi-first place award winning Model UN delegate. Her passion is investigative journalism and documentary film with the goal of informing, transforming, and calling communities to action through moving images and words. Avery has published articles in the Brooklyn Technical High School newspaper, The Survey, and also helped launch a new online magazine — The Uncommon Magazine.

Avery intends to pursue docu-journalism and political science in college and to continue producing multimedia journalism that engages, educates, and changes the world. She will transform your world through engaging storytelling and her vivid creativity will bring real world issues to you in meaningful ways.

The College Board: a Monopoly Without Accountability

by Avery Kim

Many schools, including the one I attend, offer only the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) options for many courses in the sciences and math. These not only restrict teachers to focusing on test material and rushed lesson plans, but they also stifle the teacher’s ability to engage in meaningful class discussion, simply because that will not be tested. It becomes a mechanical process of checking boxes off of the “Curriculum Framework.” Our teachers were trained to do so much more. Throughout the last two years of being in AP classes, I have repetitively heard the phrase, “I would love to go into this more, but we need to stay on schedule for the test.” Fortunately, my teachers have found ways to weave in everything from looking at Marxism in a positive light to learning about the “Forgotten War” because the Korean War was more than just a single bullet point on the College Board’s list; our class is lucky enough to know that this war should not be buried beneath other aspects of the stiff curriculum deemed “more significant” by the College Board. The College Board is controlling the content exposure of students taking their courses.

It should be alarming that a private nonprofit is dictating the needs, aspirations, and indirectly the futures of its consumers (victims). I can relate to this entirely. On May 10th, 2016, I experienced my third concussion in two years. On May 11th, 2016, I was forced to take my AP English Language and Composition exam with no testing accommodations whatsoever because the College Board constitutes that emergency extended time requests take 3-4 days to even initially process. I ended up falling behind on the preliminary bubbling, including the personal survey questions for the College Board’s own statistical use, and lived the stereotypical high school nightmare of taking a test I hadn’t studied for and subsequently seeing my demise cackling at me from an uncomfortably close distance. This is what happens when a private entity strips schools, citywide departments of education, and statewide education authorities of jurisdiction over the needs of their students. The most disturbing part is that the government sanctifies this and has given up its power to such an outside entity; they allow the College Board  the power to make unilateral decisions about policies, children’s health, what books to read, and even what time of the day a student is taking an exam — offering no makeups and no recourse.

No student plans a detrimental concussion or injury 3-4 business days before their big exam, but the College Board doesn’t care. To the College Board, I am just a consumer.

It’s incredulous to me how the College Board is seemingly above any accountability. A team of anonymous men and women sitting behind closed doors denied my extended time request. Perhaps they knew better than the Head of Neurology at NYU (New York University) Langone hospital. Perhaps they knew I was stuttering to the extent my sentences were incoherent. Perhaps they knew of the physiological effects, like intense headaches. Perhaps they knew how much I was still struggling from post-concussion syndrome from my past two head injuries. Perhaps just somehow they knew better than the emergency room, my doctors, my teachers, etc. Or perhaps I was hit in the head just hard enough to even think the above are genuine possibilities. But in reality, I know they’re not; I know the decision makers at the College Board have no idea of the reality of my trauma. Having experienced multiple concussions over the course of two years, I know what it is like to  live with  “a silent injury.” I’ve watched kids with scraped knees or casts on their legs receive more sympathy and empathy than I ever did when I told people I got a concussion. What I usually hear is, “Why aren’t you better yet?” and other skeptical responses to the fact that I am still struggling. The College Board also apparently has no clue about my struggles. A kid with a broken arm? Extra time because they know it’s hard to write. A kid with a brain injury? Oh well.

I guess I picked the wrong injury to get three times. But of course, with the College Board, Kid With A Broken Arm’s accommodations would still take 3-4 cookie-cutter business days to process.

It’s not too surprising that a testing nonprofit doesn’t understand health, wellness, and injuries. It is not a hospital nor a local physician’s office. The College Board knows nothing in the medical field, as it shouldn’t. However, it has assumed that responsibility, too, in assuming authority over schools’ decisions about testing accommodations. People who know about the testing business but not about the realities of medical complications are dictating and guarding what is/isn’t allowed in the testing environment—and this faulty knowledge is negatively affecting children’s well-being and education.

Until my recent concussion, I never realized how much authority this single private entity held over the public education system(s) of America. I never thought capitalism and the corporate drive would begin to creep into fundamental systems like that of public schools.

It is now June 2, 2016, and two days before my SAT Subject Test: another product of the College Board. Not only have they declared I “need breaks,” instead of the extended time my doctors have emphasized, but they moved my testing location and refuse to move me back. It will now take me over an hour to physically get to my exam, not the twenty minutes as I had planned. Due to these circumstances and my post-concussion syndrome, I am now extremely stressed out– the exact opposite of what I should be two days before test day. All of this has occurred because a testing nonprofit has been granted the authority to proclaim decisions at a level of superiority greater than the ER, my doctors, my neurologists, my school, or even New York State.

F

Note: Original version had March as the month of both Avery’s injury and the SAT administration. The correct month for both is May.

___________________________________________________________

Coming July 08, 2016, from TC Press (revised release date):

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Stay tuned.

 

***

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

3 Comments
  1. 2old2tch permalink

    Fortunately, there are plenty of colleges out there who will be more than sympathetic to her struggles with the College Board. Her experience in AP classes appears to be similar to those of my kids who had teachers who did their best to go beyond the narrow constraints of the AP course curriculum as well.

  2. Christine Langhoff permalink

    “Until my recent concussion, I never realized how much authority this single private entity held over the public education system(s) of America. I never thought capitalism and the corporate drive would begin to creep into fundamental systems like that of public schools.”

    Not that I would wish a concussion on anyone, but it seems that a good whack on the head might bring some of those running the show to their senses.

    And Avery, you are completely correct, too, that the College Board is controlling what students are exposed to in their curriculum. When the people at the top handed my school over to the National Math and Science Initiative, (NMSI http://www.nms.org) it completely changed the culture of the school in a detrimental way. The hyper focus became AP, all the time, which made lots of money for consultants and testing and stressed out kids in what was an already competitive environment.

    There are more than 850 colleges which don’t require SAT scores. I’m certain many of them would be delighted to have a student of your caliber attend. After all, if they think you’re more than a number coming in, they’re likely to treat you as more than a number while you’re a student.

    http://fairtest.org/university/optional

  3. The Coopers permalink

    We know your not Dyslexic but 17% of students are….Now that you experienced what many with well documented disabilities experience…denial of needed accommodations by the College Board…Please sign and help SHARE our Change.org Petition and good luck to you as well.

    https://www.change.org/p/sign-the-petition-stop-the-college-board-from-denying-dyslexics-screen-readers-on-sat-or-ap-course-tests?recruiter=74171949&utm_source=petitions_show_components_action_panel_wrapper&utm_medium=copylink

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