This is our second year of AP language exam administration in our language lab. Here are some details about the tech side of the administration of the listening and speaking sections, in case you will find it useful at your school.
Last year, we took great care to ensure that everything went smoothly the first time through. This year, it was a lot more routine. As I write, students are recording their responses to the Spanish language speaking portion. The Sanako Lab 100 software has an AP® Exam mode that requires the students to input their AP number into the lab station control panel and automatically names each file by AP number. It also provides a couple of useful security features, such as locking the student panels during the exam (except for volume control) and not permitting the supervisor to save the contents of the AP CD to the media storage unit.
One unexpected time sink is the Sanako’s automatic conversion of the files from WAV (the default storage format) to MP3. I think this is necessary because Sanako wanted to avoid licensing the MP3 standard for its media storage unit in order to keep costs down. The final step is still as tedious as ever. Just as last year, I need to transfer each 3 MB student MP3 file to a separate CD. It takes a while to individually burn 70 or so CDs, and we are a small school! At least this year the College Board provided blank CDs with a space for the AP label, so that I would not have to write the AP number myself. Wouldn’t it be great if the College Board would allow us to submit one CD with all of the files? Better yet, why not permit online submission?
The College Board provided greater flexibility to students with learning accommodations this year. A handful of students were permitted extended time and the ability to listen to parts of the recording a second time. We ripped the tracks to laptops, logged the students into a limited environment, and provided them with a media player so that they could jump around the CD to listen to the desired tracks. This went almost completely without a hitch, and we will do it again in the future unless the rules change again.