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D's AP USH may be cancelled, based on answers too similar to 'sources'

WapatoWapato 7 replies1 threads New Member
My D got a code 93. We were told yesterday it is because they believe she had access to encyclopedia's and textbooks during the test. The evidence: her answers were too strongly correlated to sources. There was no complaint from the proctor, other students, video, or anything like that.

She received an 800 on the SAT History subject test, a 100 in her AP USH class, unweighted 4.0, wants to be a history professor, did every single DBQ during the school year, even though her class skipped over many sections, and was insanely well prepared for the test. She is high level in speech and debate which focuses on being able to remember and cite sources.

Crazy! Anybody ever hear of anything like this happening before?! If yes, how did you deal with it? She is supposed to submit a letter arguing on her behalf. Since there is no evidence other than 'correlation', and they haven't given her the specifics of the correlation, its hard to understand how she can argue her case.
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Replies to: D's AP USH may be cancelled, based on answers too similar to 'sources'

  • mathmommathmom 33365 replies163 threads Senior Member
    She should say that. Does she have a photographic memory? Is she unusually good at memorizing stuff (poetry theater whatever)?
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  • WapatoWapato 7 replies1 threads New Member
    Absolutely. She was put on the varsity brain bowl team as a sophomore precisely because she had the history, geography and literature facts on speed dial like no one else.

    That's the weird part. Its like she's being punished for recalling the information too well...that's the basis for threatening to cancel her score.
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  • happy1happy1 24578 replies2484 threads Super Moderator
    edited September 2017
    Sounds like a frustrating situation.

    The argument would be to detail how much she studied and to explain her photographic/near-photographic memory. I would include her other scores in history and the fact that she was put on the varsity brain bowl as a sophomore because of her outstanding recall of facts and figures. Could she possibly also get/include a corroborating letter(s) from the quiz bowl advisor and or history teacher testifying to her outstanding memory? Also maybe ask them to keep the letters on file so you won't have to go through this again for future exams.

    You probably have done this already -- but I would take great pains to assure your D that she has done absolutely everything right and the College Board just doesn't understand her abilities in terms of memorization. She should also know that whatever the outcome it won't change her life one bit --other than she may have to take one additional history course in college which sounds like it won't be an issue. So while frustrating, aggravating etc. she should try not to stress about this too much.
    edited September 2017
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  • WapatoWapato 7 replies1 threads New Member
    happy1: that's a good idea. She's planning to get a letter from her AP USH teacher testifying to how well she knew the material, and her integrity, as well as from the test room proctor that there were no signs of impropriety in the room. She's a rule follower to a fault, which makes this seem even more surreal.
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  • happy1happy1 24578 replies2484 threads Super Moderator
    Sounds to me like your biggest job will be to make sure this doesn't "throw" your daughter. I hope that the support she will get from parents and teachers will be a comfort.
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  • WapatoWapato 7 replies1 threads New Member
    Yes, definitely an unnecessary stress, especially since its what she wants to major in and pursue as a career.
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  • Conformist1688Conformist1688 1292 replies31 threads Senior Member
    If the problem was that she was repeating her sources word for word, that is something she needs to change going forward, or she may find herlsef accused of plagiarism in the future, which is not something she wants in college, especially if her aim is a PhD. She needs to learn how to put things *in her own words*, not memorising and repeating.
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  • WapatoWapato 7 replies1 threads New Member
    Conformist1688, I hear you, but this is different. You are supposed to use sources to back up your argument, so using their wording is normally considered desirable. They just don't believe she could have been so accurate without the material in front of her.
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  • MaterSMaterS 1849 replies51 threads Senior Member
    This has come up in the past where a student used the answer from a practice test or other source verbatim and the scores have been nullified for plagiarism.
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  • blueskies2dayblueskies2day 1097 replies6 threads Senior Member
    I agree with @Conformist1688 If you are using sources and placing them appropriately into quotes and citations that is one thing, but if you are repeating exactly what sources said, that is plagiarism.

    Not to add stress, but I have seen many people battle College Board on here and it isn't fun. Do not be casual in your presentation of information to them. Be very business like and professional with materials and documents you send them. You may be proud that your D can memorize all this stuff, but they don't care about that, what you are trying to do is show she wasn't cheating.

    It seems a ridiculous claim of course, but the burden is now on you to prove it. They can be a pain. Hope it wraps up quickly and easily for you.
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  • SouthFloridaMom9SouthFloridaMom9 3416 replies30 threads Senior Member
    edited September 2017
    Wow, that has to be scary and frustrating. Your daughter sounds like a history buff. My son is a little bit like that too, and has a fantastic memory so I know what you mean (or at least think I do!).

    I agree with the above approach - be very professional in dealing with CB. It is aggravating that you have to deal with it though.
    edited September 2017
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  • i_wanna_be_Browni_wanna_be_Brown Forum Champion Brown 8241 replies73 threads Forum Champion
    Can the proctor write a "letter of support" or something specifically stating that they did not witness any behavior from your D that would raise any suspicion of malfeasance?
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  • chzbrgrchzbrgr 201 replies12 threads Junior Member
    Conformist1688, I hear you, but this is different. You are supposed to use sources to back up your argument, so using their wording is normally considered desirable. They just don't believe she could have been so accurate without the material in front of her.

    I think that's true of primary sources. But if she is reproducing secondary sources (like a textbook) word for word without attribution, then that is plagiarism. But it doesn't sound like that's the issue here, so good luck to you!
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6883 replies10 threads Senior Member
    I realize this would be unappealing, but could your D offer to re take the test, supervised in a way that met the college board's standards? It would seem with her interests and gifts that she could replicate her result with less effort than it might seem.
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  • WapatoWapato 7 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks all for the feedback. The proctor was in communication with CB over the summer and submitted all their material to show that there were no irregularities in the test room, plus seating charts, etc.

    It isn't an accusation of plagiarism, so that's not really the issue. The accusation is that she had access to these textbooks while taking the test, based entirely on the context of what she wrote rather than any other sort of evidence.

    Here's what is extra strange about this. CB has two categories for cancelling scores. One is called 'misconduct' in which some sort of inappropriate activity happened, be it the fault of the proctor or of the student. The other is called 'invalidity' which is for more fuzzy cases. With 'invalidity' it can be things like the kids' knowledge was so inconsistent over the course of the test that they feel something is wrong, so they invalidate it, or a few kids had overly similar wording in their free response, but there is no material evidence of cheating, etc. Fuzzy stuff.

    With invalidity cases, they give you a chance to argue your side, it goes before a panel, then they either validate your score, let you retake the test immediately and if your score is close (4 instead of 5), they give you your original score (you've validated your ability), or you can go into arbitration, etc.

    With misconduct cases, they do give you a chance to present your side to some degree, but if they decide against you, they cancel your score, and if it was you who they believe was responsible for the misconduct, they might not let you retake it.

    Even though you would think her case would fit into invalidity, they are pursueing it as misconduct, because they believe she must have accessed these textbooks while taking the test, with the only 'evidence' being what she wrote. Crazy! So she is supposed to respond in some manner to explain why she knew that stuff. However, they won't tell her what it is she wrote that raised the red flags, or even what the question was (for test security reasons). So she has to present a plausible explanation without knowing what it really even was. Extra crazy.

    And yes, she will write a very respectful response and just do the best she can with it. The person we're dealing with at College Board is very nice as well. And we get their need to be hyper vigilant about test security and validity, but there does seem to be a point at which using contextual analysis to accuse someone of misconduct is going too far the other way (department of pre-crime kind of stuff).
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  • happy1happy1 24578 replies2484 threads Super Moderator
    Good luck. Let us know how things turn out.
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  • WapatoWapato 7 replies1 threads New Member
    Will do.
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  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal 3487 replies34 threads Senior Member
    Great news!
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  • mathmommathmom 33365 replies163 threads Senior Member
    Hurray, so glad to hear that.
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