Center Moriches students' AP essays found

David Livoti, 17, in front of Center Moriches David Livoti, 17, in front of Center Moriches High School. (Aug. 16, 2012) Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

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Center Moriches' missing AP test papers have been found.

National testing officials announced Thursday that the essay-answer booklets for an Advanced Placement U.S. history exam given in May had turned up in a New Jersey warehouse, tucked between other papers.

Consequently, 18 Center Moriches High School students who had feared their essay answers were lost forever will receive proper scores within two weeks, testing officials added. Students had been told the papers were missing early this month, and Newsday reported the disappearance last week.

"We're thrilled that the students will now rapidly receive an AP score based on their full exam performance from May 2012," said Trevor Packer, senior vice president for AP programs at the Manhattan-based College Board, which sponsors the tests.

Packer went on to say that essay booklets were not found initially when they arrived in New Jersey for distribution to scorers, because the papers were improperly packed. Russell Stewart, the Center Moriches schools chief, disputed this, saying district records indicated all exam papers had been shipped according to specifications set by ETS, a nonprofit agency that handles testing logistics for the College Board.

Students just expressed relief.

"Wow, that's something," said David Livoti, 17, who is entering his senior year at Center Moriches High. "I'm certainly relieved that they found our tests. That's great."

Like many classmates, Livoti feared he might have to accept the College Board's offer of an extrapolated score, based on the multiple-choice portion of his exam, which was not lost. The essay portion counts as half the total score, and Livoti now hopes for a higher mark.

Before finding the exam booklets, the College Board had also offered students the option of retaking the test or accepting a refund of the $87 fee. Packer estimated that about 800 exam papers disappear permanently each year -- a number that he said represented one-fiftieth of 1 percent of the more than 4 million AP exams taken annually worldwide.

Some Center Moriches parents had questioned why their teens were not informed until August of the disappearance of the answer booklets of exams taken in May. Packer said Thursday that earlier notices would not have been appropriate because his agency spends much of July matching multiple-choice answer booklets and essay-answer booklets to make sure both are credited to the correct students and that any missing papers are not due to a mix-up in names.Despite disagreement over how the booklets went missing, College Board and Center Moriches officials agreed they had had a strong, long-lasting professional relationship.

"The Center Moriches experience with College Board has been excellent, and we have the utmost respect for them," Stewart said.

Advanced Placement is the nation's largest program offering college-level courses and exams in high schools.

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