400 students at Amador Valley High must retake AP tests due to 'irregularities'

Local tutoring center offers free reviews for students Sunday, Monday afternoon

Nearly 400 Amador Valley High School students will have to retake the Advanced Placement exams next week due to testing irregularities, according to the Pleasanton school district.

The district was alerted by the College Board and Educational Testing Services regarding the "seating irregularities," and worked closely with the ETS to investigate the claim.

After investigating two testing rooms, ETS found that students were not sitting the required 5-feet apart from one another and students were not seated facing the same direction -- creating a testing irregularity.

Amador Valley's other testing rooms met the seating requirements, and 75% of the school's AP exam scores will remain valid.

Students were told about the testing situation Thursday and an automated call from principal Dr. Thomas Drescher was sent to parents of affected students. The school also sent letters out to reiterate the information.

Students will have the opportunity to retake their exams next week so scores can be submitted in time without impacting college acceptance.

In an effort to help students before they retake the exams, Steps Tutoring and SAT Prep at 2340 Santa Rita Rd. is offering free review sessions on Sunday at 11 a.m. for Computer Science, noon for Calculus BC, 1 p.m. for U.S. History, 2 p.m. for Chemistry and 3 p.m. for Statistics

A free review session is also being offered at 4:30 p.m. Monday for Biology.

Those interested in these review sessions must register online in advance at More information can be obtained by calling (925) 600-9300.


Posted by Testicolo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2014 at 8:28 am

So the "$64,000 Question" was this just sloppy test administration or planned cheating? What does Amador have to say about that? When do we hear about who is being held responsible?

Posted by Irate parent, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on May 30, 2014 at 8:36 am

What a mess! Who reported this to College Board?? How was the seating arrangement proved? Photos? How are teachers going to prepare students to retake the tests? And what actual tests will they take? Certainly not the original ones. I hope Amador has answers.

Posted by Oy Vey!, a resident of Birdland
on May 30, 2014 at 8:38 am

Let the lynching begin!

Posted by You can't be serious, a resident of Birdland
on May 30, 2014 at 8:39 am

Teachers are in a union and this nobody will be held accountable.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 30, 2014 at 8:41 am

(Post removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff.)

Posted by Julia, a resident of another community
on May 30, 2014 at 8:43 am

What a bunch of weak reporting...Why don't have the guts to call it what it really is...planned and organized cheating...

If 75% of the scores are okay. That means 25% (400 Seniors) of the senior students need to re-take the test. Sounds like a very large senior class.

Thanks for listening, Julia Pardini from Alamo

Posted by Puzzled, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2014 at 8:44 am

I thought 400 *scores* were affected. Why does the headline say 400 *seniors*?? Everyone takes a given AP exam together-- year in school doesn't matter.

So, Pleasanton Weekly, which is it? 400 seniors or 400 scores?

Posted by Susan, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 30, 2014 at 8:50 am

(Post removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff for containing unverified or personal information.)

Posted by Not enough teachers, a resident of Birdland
on May 30, 2014 at 8:50 am

The reason they were so close is that not enough teachers were brought in to do the testing.

Posted by second priority, a resident of Amador Estates
on May 30, 2014 at 8:53 am

Oh, I know the real root of the problem! "It is a budget issue! Let's have a referendum to raise even more taxes for our schools! After all, IT IS FOR THE KIDS!"

(That anyone would have higher expectations from any GOVERNMENT PROGRAM OR SERVICE is beyond my comprehension. Students are NOT the highest priority among school officials! Just don't mess with job security, pensions, time-off, etc!)

Posted by Jen, a resident of Walnut Hills
on May 30, 2014 at 8:58 am

The teachers do not proctor the tests. The district brings in outside test proctors to administer the tests. This has nothing to do with teachers or their union. While students are taking AP exams, teachers are in their classrooms teaching the students who are not testing. Trust me, the teachers are just as upset about this as everyone else is.

The best thing we can do is support these students and their teachers and help minimize their stress. It's a terrible situation, but let's not make it worse by attacking people who didn't cause the problem.

Posted by Puzzled, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2014 at 9:12 am

To Jen's point: aren't the proctors trained?? Wouldn't they know the desks are too close? Wouldn't they know how to look for cheating? Students are clever. To have untrained proctors working AP exams is egregious at the very least.

Posted by The Truth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2014 at 9:17 am

The truth is, teachers do not proctor the tests, they are busy teaching! One kid didn't do well on the test and the parents filed a complaint so they could re-test but now they ALL have to do a re-test! No cheating has been suspected, it was simply the seating arrangement was a little too close. Get the facts before blaming the teachers sheesh!

Posted by William Tell, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2014 at 9:18 am

(Post removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff for containing unverified or personal information.)

Posted by Rick, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2014 at 9:26 am

I truly feel bad for these students. It sounds like the issue was due to incorrect seating arrangements. I am not reading that anyone cheated. So, if this was just that chairs were arranged incorrectly, and they situation was monitored by outside test seems to me the tests should stand as is and the company providing the proctors should be fined and penalized. Doesn't seem right to me to toss out all the tests because the chairs were not spaced per some rule, unless there is some proof of cheating.

Good luck to the students. Having to ramp up and take the test again is tough.

Posted by Patriot, a resident of Castlewood
on May 30, 2014 at 9:28 am

(Post removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff for containing unverified or personal information.)

Posted by William Tell, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2014 at 9:30 am

Oh, the webs of self deception we weave! So the chairs were just suddenly too close, eh? Well, how did they get that way? Did the students move them? Who was behind this? (Comment partially removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff for containing unverified or personal information.)

Posted by Bill, a resident of Castlewood
on May 30, 2014 at 9:32 am

We all need to chill. Just relax grab a drink and have some fun.

Posted by Buffalo Bill, a resident of Valley Trails
on May 30, 2014 at 9:37 am

It puts the lotion on the skin

Posted by Teacher, a resident of Val Vista
on May 30, 2014 at 9:38 am

YUP! I'm lining my pockets with the extra $$$$! I can now afford to buy a house in Mountain House!


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Canyon Meadows
on May 30, 2014 at 9:40 am

When life gets you down, wearing a frown, don't look away, look up,
'Cause memories true come of the blue; you know the way — look up!

Posted by Jim, a resident of Carlton Oaks
on May 30, 2014 at 9:41 am

When skies are gone gray, things gone astray, don't hide away, look up;
Take it

Posted by Parenting in PTown, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2014 at 10:09 am

It is too bad, but putting it into perspective, not the worst thing that could happen. My son will be retaking tests. He worked hard the first time- he knows the content. For him it was not about memorizing and regurgitating information.

The real test comes in how my son handles it. Things go wrong in life all the time- how you react to it is what is most important- can he move forward with an attitude that this can be fixed, there's a solution, or does he move forward with a "it's not fair" attitude that paralyzes his actual success? How does blame fix the solution when something goes wrong? I would hope that my son uses his energy for solutions to problems as they arise, not waste it on gossip and blame- using that as a way to avoid actual solutions.

Attitude is everything- we've taught him to focus on the outcome he wants and make it happen regardless of road blocks that get in his way. This is the actual "AP test" that matters in life- how he reacts to this will be the greater test, not one that is up to me to solve- it's about him, it's for him to solve.

As his first teacher, how I react to this in front of him has more impact than you will ever realize. I dont plan to raise a son who focuses on blame and speculation- rather one who perseveres when things don't go as planned.

Posted by Boymom, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2014 at 10:24 am

My boys told me it was 2 portable classrooms where the tests were taken that were the problem. Thy obviously shouldn't have used portables to administer the tests. It is mostly juniors, I believe. It is 400 tests not seniors. Some kids have to retake more than one test. Happy it wasn't my senior because he already said he would not retake it. FYI soph, juniors and seniors all take ap tests. And to the Alamo comment yes a VERY large sr class - about 650!

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on May 30, 2014 at 11:22 am

I'm not sure why I find the matter quite funny! Who on planet earth has not taken a test? duh...if some of the students did study as they claim what's the problem with taking the test again? How can somebody not be ready to take a test a second time. If you actually did study then the information is there for you to rely upon. Of course if you didn't study but publicly claimed that you did study...naughty naughty naughty!

I can't imagine normal folks being so upset about such a small matter? search me...tee hee

Posted by Hee, hee, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I just think it's funny that William Tell is always blaming teachers. As a teacher, I must apologize to you William. My people have failed you in the worst way possible - spelling.

principle is a rule
principal is the leader of a school. Think of them as your pal.

That should help you with basic spelling.

Posted by Tommy, a resident of Birdland
on May 30, 2014 at 2:39 pm

If you hate the schools so much take your kids out of the community. It is a few trolls on this site that give Pleasanton such a bad reputation. There was no cheating and the tables were just a few inches short of not having enough room according to my daughter. There was no cheating. It is too bad people like most of the ones above cannot be supportive. Have you nothing else to do with your lives? The students and the teachers are fantastic in this community. Try moving somewhere else if you don't like it

Posted by To teacher of Val Vista, a resident of Birdland
on May 30, 2014 at 2:49 pm

So why aren't you teaching instead of posting on PW 4 hours ago? hmm? Too early for lunch 4 hours ago, so lurking on the blogs whilst kids are watching a Friday 'educational' video in your classroom? This school district is a joke! Can't wait to get my kids out of this place and then try to sell our overpriced house! AVHS isn't what it used to be. Just ask any family that had older kids go through it and now their younger ones are there.....huge difference in quality of administration and teaching staff. So, so sad.

Posted by Gertrude, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 30, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Gertrude is a registered user.

Ok looks like spin control needs to be called out.

I have heard that the number of students affected is closer to 500.
When school officials say "about" 400 they are trying to minimize the problem.

Also, The principal said that the tests will be taken as soon as possible> This is so they can be compared to the large pool of AP test takers (thereby making the curve more generous). Is this possible for tests involving essays? The AP board may have to weigh in on this. Imagine all these brilliant students at Amador being compared to each other for a grade.

There is no accountability at PUSD. No one will be reprimanded or fired over this. That is why this is not a surprise. Carry on folks....Step and column coming up.

Posted by mjarivers, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 30, 2014 at 5:09 pm

mjarivers is a registered user.

What type of credential would a Proctor have?
I assume they are professional educators.
Given that assumption, they probably entered the classroom with
the seating already set up prior to their arrival.
They may have recognized the seating error and brought that error
to the attention of the resident manager, the principle.
He may have issued an order to proceed with the testing.

Posted by drewx, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on May 30, 2014 at 6:54 pm

drewx is a registered user.

In response to Julia's and William Tell's comments:

My daughter told me that she heard from administration today that the seating irregularity was a matter of 2 inches: 4'10" versus 5'between testing students. A difference of two inches between students doesn't give much cause to some "planned and organized cheating." These are good kids, and Collegeboard and the principal have confirmed that cheating is not the issue here. I do, however, understand that there is a compliance issue which cannot be denied.

Best of luck to all students affected by this unfortunate event, and a big thank you to all the prep centers in the community for stepping in to help our students... it is much appreciated.

Posted by Registered Joe, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Registered Joe is a registered user.

I believe it's a procedural error, something any of us could have done. It's a shame that students will need to retake, but a nationally-used firm like ETS is right to demand enforcement of its rules and procedures.

For just a moment, let's assume the worst case, that the rules and procedures weren't followed because of demonstrated incompetence or willful misconduct. A firing offense, in other words. Does everybody understand that for all practical purposes, a teacher can't be fired in this state? Out of 300,000 teachers in California, an average of a dozen or so have been fired per year over the past 20 years. The CA teachers' unions are THAT powerful.

And before you blame the Pleasanton school board and superintendent, realize that their hands are completely and utterly tied by the rules, procedures, and various contracts in place between the schools and its workers.

Posted by A Student , a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 31, 2014 at 12:33 am

A Student is a registered user.

I am an Amador student, and in response to Testicolo's comment, there was no cheating involved. It was simply a matter of seating arrangements in 2 classrooms that did not follow Collegeboard's guidelines. I wouldn't necessarily call it "sloppy test administration" either; I feel like it's more about Collegeboard thinking that 4 inches would have made a difference in cheating potential, which is pretty unreasonable.

Apparently, the complaint about the desks was made anonymously, and nobody knows who it is. However, if word does get out who made the complaint, he or she will undoubtedly receive a lot of hate.

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