District moves to make AP testing mandatory

Eda Sezer, Reporter

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Administrators decided to implement mandatory AP testing for students to improve the ranking of the school and to ensure the school is better academically represented by all of its students.

The decision to mandate testing was made in late winter and will begin in the 2019/2020 school year.

Principal Phil King explained why this decision was made for the district and also mentioned that it was made before the class sign up period so students would understand what is expected before enrolling in AP classes.

“It was made mandatory because we wanted to make sure that our students and our school was represented by the whole group of students that took the course. . . . We have a number of students that take the classes and never take the exams and our school doesn’t get credit for it when it comes to data processing through different agencies who rank our schools,” King said.

Superintendent Matthew Montgomery further clarified how the unfulfilled representation of the school affects the district.

“Because our [tests] are [currently] optional, it does not give us an accurate representation of the students taking the courses and therefore impacts how we evaluate the course as well as how we evaluate our performance and compare that to our comparable districts. For example Aurora has every student take the AP test and at Hudson every student takes the AP test, so what’s happening is that when you look at the U.S. News and World Reports, they issue a yearly ranking [of] gold, silver or bronze, [and] we often times fall short on those rankings, due to one of the reasons being not mandating every student to take the AP tests,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery expounded on the details about how this mandate could change and benefit the school’s image as well as its national and state ranking, which takes the percentage of students taking the exams into consideration rather than the scores received, and he also addressed the goals and accomplishments of students and administration of the district.

“[As a district,] we have moved from thirty-eighth to twenty-first in state rankings out of six-hundred and eleven districts. We are leading our competitors in terms of national semi-finalists [which is] the most we’ve ever had and we are leading our competitors with the amount of perfect ACT scores, especially when you compare it to [the size of] the student body. . . . Everything we are doing is to continue to improve our brand and if this change proves to be different from what we anticipated [it] to be, we are committed to continually evaluating it and reflecting on these decisions to see if we need to take a different direction,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery presented how taking the test could help students in their collegiate years because of the retention of knowledge.

“The biggest thing for the students is that the knowledge that they will obtain by taking the test will help with their retention and put them in a better position for future tests of that caliber as well as future curriculum in a collegiate environment. [The AP exams] will hopefully make their early years in college a review opposed to new acquisition of topics rather than a new curriculum. . . . I think there is a possibility that students do not put as much energy and focus into the course when they do not take the test,” Montgomery said.

King described the options for students who may not be able to financially afford the test or simply cannot or do not want to take the test. He also clarified that there is a .5 GPA reduction for students who do not take the exam and explained the reason for this reduction, which is to provide an incentive for kids to still take the class even without the exam, since it is above a 4.0 scale.

“There are opportunities [for students] that have financial issues [in which] that test could be payed for. For example, if students qualify for a free reduced lunch, and they go through the legitimate process so that they qualify for that then the fee can be managed through our school system. . . . The other thing is [although generally] students are required to take it, there is an opt out if students do not want to take the test. What happens is instead of getting a 5.0 scale [for GPA], they would get the 4.5 scale,” King said.

Associate principal Doug Faris spoke about the GPA reduction and how he believes while GPA is important, it is not the only important aspect of school needed for college.

“If you clearly do not want to take the test but you want the course, then that’s fine, but we’re just going to say that you will get a 4.5, which if you factor out, it’s not that huge of a significant debt on your GPA, because you’re still getting a higher GPA [than the standard 4.0 scale]. I understand it comes down to hundredths and all that stuff and yes, colleges look at GPA, but [it also comes down to things such as] test scores, volunteerism, strength of schedule, and all of those things make up a college’s decision about whether to accept a kid,” Faris said.

King spoke about what he would say to students who take any AP classes who may not want to take the exams and also mentioned the importance of the students representing the school district.

“You still want your academic record to be strong by showing you have fully completed an AP course by taking the course, doing all the work, and taking the AP test and showing in good faith that you have worked hard. . . . It’s really important to us that our students are showcased throughout the United States and throughout the state by taking those exams and doing well on them. We really believe that we have a number of students that could do great on our exams and really help our school district be put in a higher echelon,” King said.

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