Letters to the editor, Feb. 16
TBO.comThe truth behind AP exams
Published: February 16, 2012
Published: February 16, 2012
There was recently an article which showed that the percentage of students passing AP exams at Central High School decreased by 6 percent, more than any other school in the county.
As a junior at Central High School (and one who has never failed an AP Exam), I have noticed several policy and administrative changes over the past two years that have led to this major decrease in the number of students passing.
At this current time the school's priority is not the percentage of students who pass the AP exams, rather the number of students who take the AP exam.
The major reason for this is money. Because of recent budget cuts, the school is more concerned with trying to raise money than the individual students' education. Because the school receives money based on the number of students that pass the AP exam, rather than the percentage of students that pass the exam, they figure that they can earn the most money by having as many students take the exam as possible.
They are probably aware that a majority of the students will not pass the exams, but they also realize that the more students they have taking the exams, the more students that are bound to pass the exams, and the more money they will receive. They are more concerned with the money, than the individual students who are taking the exams.
When a student takes a regular class and gets an A, they receive a 4.0 on their grade point average (GPA) for that class. For honors classes, they receive a 4.5, and for AP classes, a 5.0. Last year, Central High School completely did away with all honors classes that had an AP equivalent.
They told us it was because the curriculum in honors classes and regular classes were very similar, so there was no need for the honors classes. The real reason they did this was to force all of the students who did not want to take regular classes (because of the lower GPA), to take the AP equivalent, rather than the honors, with the hope that they might pass the AP exam.
The administration doesn't actually care whether or not the student is able to handle the rigor that taking an AP class entails, and there are currently no entrance requirements for AP classes either. You could have the lowest GPA in the school and be still be able to take AP courses that have college level curriculum.
In addition to making it extremely appealing and easy to sign up for AP courses, the school makes it very difficult for students to withdraw from AP courses in the two week grace period at the beginning of the year.
Students will usually withdraw from a course if they realize the course is too rigorous. To withdraw from a regular course, one simply needs to have a parent/guardian sign a sheet of paper and talk to their guidance counselor.
To withdraw from an AP course, one needs to get a parent/guardian signature, a signature of the AP course teacher, and a signature from either the principal or one of the assistant principals, as well as a good reason for withdrawing from the course, or the form will be denied.
This leads to a large number of students in AP classes who do not belong in these classes. And when the students do poorly in the classes, the administration blames the teachers for not teaching well enough, not the fact that the students are not capable enough to be in the classes in the first place.
AP courses aren't the only area that the school finds money more important than the individual student. Because of our poor FCAT scores in reading, every student is required to take a weekly practice test called the FCIM.
Students, like myself, who already passed the reading FCAT with a 5, (I only got 2 questions wrong) still have to take this weekly test. In addition, they count the test as part of the student's fourth period class grade, regardless of the class.
For example, I have AP psychology fourth period, and these FCIM tests count as a quiz grade in my AP psychology class. I therefore have an unfairly higher grade than the student who has AP psychology third period class.
In addition, I am hesitant about the capabilities of some of the administration that is making the decisions in our school. Recently, we had an assembly in the auditorium where we were shown a public service announcement from the UK about texting and driving.
After it was over, one of the administrators told us that the video was from the Ukraine. Because of their obvious British accents and the fact that it clearly stated it was from the UK at the end, I asked, "Did you mean to say the UK?" The administrator then proceeded to say, "Same thing." While I do realize that geography has nothing to do with administrative capabilities, it makes me wonder about the people that we have running our school, and whether or not the education of individual students is at the top of their priorities, because from what I can see, it's not.