College students are failing AP checks as a result of the School Board can’t deal with iPhone photographs


Nick Bryner, a highschool senior in Los Angeles, had simply accomplished his AP English Literature and Composition check final week. However when he snapped a photograph of a written reply along with his iPhone and tried to add it to the testing portal, it stopped responding.

The web site obtained caught on the loading display screen till Bryner’s time ran out. Bryner failed the check. He’s retaking it in a number of weeks.

Bryner is among the many many highschool college students across the nation who accomplished Superior Placement checks on-line final week however have been unable to submit them on the finish. The offender: picture codecs.

A screenshot of the AP testing portal informing a student that they weren’t able to submit their responses.

Screenshot: School Board

For the uninitiated: AP exams require longform solutions. College students can both sort their response or add a photograph of handwritten work. College students who select the latter choice can achieve this as a JPG, JPEG, or PNG format in response to the School Board’s coronavirus FAQ.

However the testing portal doesn’t help the default format on iOS units and a few newer Android telephones, HEIC information. HEIC information are smaller than JPEGs and different codecs, thus permitting you to retailer much more photographs on an iPhone. Mainly, solely Apple (and, extra lately, Samsung) use the HEIC format — most different web sites and platforms don’t help it. Even in style Silicon Valley-based companies, resembling Slack, don’t deal with HEICs the identical means as normal JPEGs.

Bryner says a lot of his classmates additionally tried to submit iPhone photographs and skilled the identical downside. The difficulty was so widespread that his faculty’s AP program forwarded an electronic mail from the School Board to college students on Sunday together with tidbits of recommendation to forestall submission errors.

An email to high school students from the College Board with advice for submitting exam responses.

“What’s devastating is that 1000’s of scholars now have an extra three weeks of aggravating finding out for retakes,” Bryner stated.

In a press release emailed to The Verge, the School Board stated that “the overwhelming majority of scholars efficiently accomplished their exams” within the first few days of on-line testing, “with lower than 1 p.c unable to submit their responses.” The corporate additionally famous that “We share the deep disappointment of scholars who have been unable to submit responses.”

The e-mail Bryner obtained doesn’t point out the HEIC format, although it does hyperlink to the School Board’s web site, which instructs college students with iPhones to vary their digicam settings in order that photographs save as JPEGs reasonably than HEICs. The corporate additionally linked to that data in a tweet early final week.

The recommendation, nonetheless, was too late for a lot of college students. One senior, who requested to stay nameless to keep away from repercussions from faculty, stated that the School Board’s tweet went out only a few minutes earlier than his Physics C check started. “Nobody taking the AP Physics check would have been in a position to see it as a result of we have been already logged into the check,” he stated.

Senior Dave Spencer took a demo check earlier than his Calculus AB examination to ensure he understood the method for importing photographs. He Airdropped an iPhone picture of his responses to his Mac and tried to transform it by renaming the HEIC file to PNG. Altering a file’s extension doesn’t assure that will probably be transformed, however Spencer was nonetheless in a position to submit the demo check with no downside.

Spencer used the identical course of on the actual examination and thought it went by, however he obtained an electronic mail the following day saying the information have been corrupted and that he wanted to retake the check. The School Board’s tweet went out only a few hours earlier than Spencer’s scheduled examination; he doesn’t have a Twitter account and didn’t see it.

“That is completely unacceptable, as some children might not have Twitter like me,” Spencer stated in a textual content message. “That nuance was not addressed wherever within the demo.”

Everly Kai, a senior in British Columbia, had the identical downside with Pc Science A final week — she tried to rename the file to JPEG and obtained the identical electronic mail a number of hours after submitting her check.

“It was truthfully a bit devastating,” Kai stated in a textual content. “I studied nearly everything of the earlier week and really feel I did fairly effectively, solely to comprehend it was for nothing and I’d should undergo the whole aggravating course of once more.”

Bryner thinks the clarification isn’t sufficient, even for college kids who’re taking the check later. “Most college students are most likely going to proceed to run into this,” he stated. Bryner doesn’t suppose the corporate ought to have anticipated him and his classmates to leap by so many hoops. “To flip the change from HEIC to JPEG is buried in settings, and one thing that nobody is considering going into the check,” he stated.

Even college students who knew in regards to the HEIC downside have had hassle determining how you can repair it, particularly within the high-pressure testing surroundings. Sean S., a junior from Chicago who took Calculus AB, used OneDrive to port a photograph to his Home windows desktop from his iPhone, then tried to transform the file with Home windows Photograph. As a result of picture’s dimension, the conversion took over 5 minutes. Then, earlier than the JPEG had totally submitted, his time ran out. (Sean requested to be recognized solely by his first identify and final preliminary as a result of his dad and mom didn’t need his identify within the information.)

Fortunately, it appears like college students can have extra recourse sooner or later. The School Board is now permitting test-takers who’ve points submitting their checks to electronic mail them as an alternative — iPhones convert HEICs to JPEGs routinely after they’re connected to emails within the Mail app. If you happen to fail to submit, you’ll instantly obtain a notification and a singular electronic mail handle to make use of. This selection is just obtainable for future exams, nonetheless — it received’t assist Bryner and others who failed their checks final week.

Tens of 1000’s of scholars are demanding that the School Board do extra. Following technical points along with her personal check final week, Los Angeles senior Eliana Sisman created a petition calling on the corporate to permit her and fellow college students to resubmit their earlier work. The petition has collected over 23,000 signatures.

“I thank the School Board for establishing a re-submission channel for college kids taking APs this week,” Sisman stated in a press release to The Verge. “I urge them to be truthful to college students who’ve already taken the APs and might’t submit them. Many college students might be within the navy or working at summer season jobs by June 1st and received’t be capable of take the make-up check.”

She added, “If the school board does this, they may make it clear to everybody that they’re a accountable and caring neighborhood establishment.”

Correction Might twentieth, 5:20PM ET: Eliana Sisman’s assertion initially learn “I thank the School Board for establishing a re-submission channel for college kids taking APs this 12 months.” After publication, Sisman contacted The Verge to say she’d made a mistake and she or he meant “week,” reasonably than “12 months.” We now have up to date the textual content.

Correction Might twentieth, 10:05PM ET: An earlier model of this text acknowledged that the AP English Literature and Composition check is hours lengthy, when this 12 months’s on-line model of the check is just 50 minutes lengthy. We remorse the error.


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