On Tuesday, May 19, 2020, a class action lawsuit was filed against the College Entrance Examination Board (“College Board”) in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of high school students who took Advanced Placement (“AP”) testing online as a result of the shift to distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The College Board administers the AP program, which offers college-level courses and examinations to high school students, thereby allowing high school students to earn college credits while in high school. The College Board offers 38 different AP examinations every year. In 2019, 3.1 million students took 4.9 million AP examinations. Prior to this year, AP examinations were administered in person and on paper “at school during the regular school day hours in a controlled and regulated environment where they could ask for assistance if necessary.”
In March of 2020, in light of the shift to distance learning caused by the pandemic, the College Board decided to offer AP examinations “to students at home but with significant structural changes.” The complaint states that “[e]ven as the test began, questions remained about the availability and applicability of legally required accommodations for students with disabilities, the fair access to connectivity for all students, test security, and score comparability.” After three days of at-home administration of the examinations, “the College Board admitted that there was a measurable failure rate in uploading exams” due to technical problems. Initially, however, the College Board claimed that the problems were caused by students.
The lawsuit is filed on behalf of five classes: (1) the “Nationwide Class,” consisting of “students who did not have fair and equal access to, or were not able to complete, the 2020 AP exams as a result of the College Board’s decisions prior to the administration of the exams;” (2) the Fair Access “California Subclass,” consisting of “students who did not have fair and equal access to, or were not able to complete, the 2020 AP exams as a result of the College Board decisions;” (3) the Disabled Students “California Subclass,” consisting of “disabled students who did not have fair and equal access to the AP exams due to the College Board’s decisions;” (4) the Under-Resourced “California Subclass,” consisting of “under-resourced students who did not have fair and equal access to the AP exams due to the College Board’s decisions;” and (5) the Denied Access Students “California Subclass,” consisting of “students who were denied access to, faced additional burdens, or were not able to complete, the 2020 AP exams as a result of the College Board decisions.”
The complaint seeks relief for breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, negligence, negligent misrepresentation, gross negligence, unjust enrichment, breach of implied in fact contract, breach of fiduciary duty, violation of the Americans With Disability Act, violation of the Unruh Act, violation of the Rehabilitation Act, unfair competition, and false advertising. The complaint seeks over $500 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Further, the complaint seeks injunctive relief to accept “any test answers from [the period during which the College Board experienced technical issues] by time stamp, photo and email.”
Class-action lawsuit filed against College Board about botched AP tests, The Washington Post (May 20, 2020)
J.P. on behalf of her minor son R.P., et al v. Educational Testing Services , et al (Case No. 2:2020cv04502)
Complaint in J.P. on behalf of her minor son R.P., et al v. Educational Testing Services , et al (Case No. 2:2020cv04502)