Imagine you had to take two tests in a single day. One could help you skip classes and spend less time in college, saving money for you and your family. Another wouldn’t affect your future at all.

Which test would you try your hardest on — and which would you treat as a deserved break?

a.) I’d work hardest on the test that matters to my future.

b.)I love tests. I try my hardest no matter what.

If you answered a, you’re exactly what Scott Giusti is worried about.

Giusti is principal of Mira Mesa High, where teens were scheduled to take state tests this week, at the same time as their stressful Advanced Placement exams. If they score well on the state tests, Giusti will leap for joy. The California state tests are eyed by parents and school officials who are trying to judge schools.

But teens are likely to put more effort into their Advanced Placement exams, the tests that follow a rigorous Advanced Placement class. Some colleges give students credit or let them skip basic classes if they perform well on one of those tests. And they’re an especially big deal at Mira Mesa High, which offers 22 different Advanced Placement classes ranging from environmental science to art history.

So when the two tests were scheduled at the same time, Giusti said some teens didn’t even show up for the state tests. To fix the problem, Giusti decided to not test students who were also taking the Advanced Placement exams, instead telling them to make up the test on another day.

“Testing them twice on the same day isn’t beneficial to anyone,” he wrote in an e-mail.

But the problem is going to repeat itself next year, Giusti said, looking ahead on the testing calendar. This dilemma also gets to a persistent problem with the state tests: There’s little reason for students to care about them because they don’t have any impact on their grades or college admission.

It’s an issue that our guest blogger Ashley Hermsmeier has written about. You might also remember that some Grossmont schools have tried to solve that problem by giving students a grade boost for acing state tests — which raised a whole new set of issues!

— EMILY ALPERT

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