Many students at East High School are familiar with Advanced Placement classes. At East, eighty-two percent of the student population has taken at least one of the AP classes. The driving point for most high schoolers who sign up for the class is that it will make them “college ready.” Students prepare all year for a difficult exam that corresponds with their class. Due to the diligent studying students complete before the AP test, one would imagine that the test would commence without a hitch. This year it was far from true. Two AP exams were interrupted by fire alarms which led the tests to be canceled, and the students were forced to take the test the following week.
Fire alarms are a sad reality at East. We seem to hear the alarm go off every week, mostly due to vaping in the bathrooms which sets off the smoke alarm. However, now the problem has gone too far. Not only disrupting AP Seminar but AP World. It raises the question, does the administration at East high school no longer have control over the student body? Ally Carrier, a junior at East, says, “East Administration has to get a grip over the kids vaping in the bathrooms.” She and the East community are frustrated with the constant fire alarms disrupting class and even our AP exams. Ashlyne Barringer, a junior at East who plans to take five AP classes next year, asks, “I wonder if this is going to continue to be a problem next year.”
Not every student is blaming the East Administration. Reid McCarty, a student who experienced the disruption of the AP Seminar class first hand explains that the fault lies with College Board. College Board switched most of their AP classes to digital exams using the Bluebook app in 2022-2023. McCarty narrates his experience saying at the beginning, there were problems with the exam as the Bluebook app would not work for some of the students. He even said that they “probably would have finished the exam before the fire alarm went off if setting up the test had not taken as long.” He then explains that halfway through the test, the alarm went off. Since the disruption was over ten minutes long, the protractors had to call College Board and the exam was canceled. McCarty voiced his frustration over the fire alarm but disagreed with the statement that the fault lies with East. He believes it was an “unfortunate situation, and fire alarms just happen.” Mrs. Rich, a teacher of AP U.S history and AP Seminar, agrees that fire alarms are “frustrating, but an everyday occurrence.” McCarty and Mrs. Rich believe that the solution must come from College Board. Rich states, “The College Board needs something in the digital system that allows us to pause the test.” She argues that the College Board needs to be aware that fire alarms will inevitably go off in a high school, and they need something in their system to deal with it.
What are our future steps? If fire alarms continue to be a problem in AP testing, how can we remedy the situation? One option is going back to paper testing. While an annoyance and causes significantly more hand cramping, paper tests are easier to work with and do not have the unfortunate track record of digital exams. The other option is that we hope the College Board alters Bluebook the following year, making the system run smoother and allowing the proctor to pause the exam.