The Strange Tale of the Fake AP Test

Principal, school under investigation for having unknowing students take ‘placebo exam’ instead of accredited test
(EWA Radio: Episode 211)

In South Florida, a high school principal is under fire for tricking hundreds of students into thinking they were taking a legitimate Advanced Placement exam that might lead to college course credit. As first reported by Cassidy Alexander of the Daytona Beach News-Journal, the principal determined that giving all eligible students the AP test would have been too expensive. Instead, the school paid for 78 students to take the real test. The principal created what she called a “placebo exam” for 336 unwitting students so she could gather information on how much they learned in the AP course. As Alexander explains, the incident, now under investigation by the school district and state, is more than just a PR nightmare for Mainland High School — it has also damaged trust with students and families. Alexander, who just marked her first anniversary on the education beat, also discusses what she’s learned about mining open records, how she makes the most of social media as a reporting tool, and what it’s like to cover a school system where she was once a student.

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