Mainland High School principal faces discipline after giving fake AP tests

Fewer than 90 of 340 students who took exam were given real test

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - The Mainland High School principal will be reprimanded after giving some hundreds of students a previous year's AP test, according to the school board.

An investigation concluded the principal of Mainland High School told teachers not to tell nearly 340 students they were taking tests that would not count for possible college credit. Fewer than 90 students from the AP seminar class took the real test, according to the Department of Education's investigation.

Students didn't know whether they were affected until July 5, when scores were posted online.

"She came down in tears, saying 'The rumor is true. I took a fake test. I have no score,'" parent Jen Reilly said about her daughter. "She worked her tail end off to get an A because she was told all year from her teacher,'If you do well, you get college credit.'"

Officials said Monday that students who took the school-sponsored test will be given the opportunity to enroll in an elective research course, which will focus on content from the AP seminar course along with other subject matter.

At the end of the course, students will receive an elective credit and have the opportunity to take the AP seminar exam at no cost. 

Anyone who already sat for the test and earned a 1 or 2 on the AP exam will have the opportunity to retake the exam in May 2020 in hopes of earning a 3 or higher, which would qualify them for college credit.

Mainland High School Principal Teresa Marcks was found to have violated standards of conduct, according to the school board, and will face disciplinary action.

Carl Persis, chairman of the Volusia County School Board, apologized for the incident.

"I'm apologizing on behalf of the district," Persis said. "Weighing all those things, the professional standards committee felt like at this time, that a strong letter of reprimand was the appropriate consequence."

Still, Reilly said she doesn't feel anyone has taken responsibility for what happened.

"I don't think anyone has taken accountability for the repercussions to the students," Reilly said.

She said the students are the ones who have truly been hurt by the mistake.

"The real victims, I believe, are the students that should have gotten the credit and would have gotten the credit had they just been given a chance," Reilly said.

Persis said 414 students were enrolled in the Advanced Placement Capstone Seminar, but only 78 students took an AP exam that would give them college credit. The other students were given last year's test, which doesn't count, according to Persis.

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