Would poison alter the amount of carbon dioxide in yeast? To answer that question, high school junior Evelyn Libal developed a hypothesis, designed an experiment and studied results from scientists who had conducted such tests.
The only thing missing from the 16-year-old’s work, done for an Advanced Placement biology course offered through one of the state’s virtual schools, was actually conducting the experiment.
And that’s where the College Board, which administers the AP program, could have a problem.
Differences in the kind of lab work done by students enrolled in virtual schools vs. traditional classrooms have become an issue in an ongoing audit of AP courses.
So far, thousands of teachers worldwide have successfully completed audits of their syllabuses to ensure that they are teaching what is expected for the AP label.
But the majority of science courses offered by virtual schools with computerized simulations have been given only provisional permission to continue calling themselves AP classes as they align their lab work with AP standards over the next year.
For many, that means more hands-on experiments.