|Posted by titantv on February 6, 2014 at 1:25 PM|
By Shelby Gordon
Advance placement classes, more commonly known as AP classes, have been a method of college preparation and GPA boosting for several years now. These classes are taught on a higher level of learning to high school students with the hopes of passing the subject’s standardized test and receiving college credit that will transfer once they graduate. However, in recent years, the final exams for these classes have become less important to the student. The AP exams are not given until the end of the year, rather than the end of the semester, and they do not affect a student’s overall grade in the class. With this in mind, people are now focusing more on getting A’s in the class, rather than actually striving for AP credit, because the A in Advance Placement programs adds six points to the GPA rather than the standard class’ four points. As this trend became more apparent, McDowell High realized the waste of money the tests were to an already low budget. Staff members decided something had to be done.
Mrs. Natalie Gouge, McDowell High principal, met with the county’s interim superintendent, Mark Garrett, and explained the current testing situation. As testing stands today, the school pays eighty-nine dollars for each test, but a large majority of students just bubble in random answers or lay their head down and sleep. It was decided that any student that chose to take the AP test for their specific class could do so, and the school would pay for it. However, those that did not want to take it did not have to, and that would be less money gone from the schools yearly budget plan.
Mr. Tommy Cox, one of the school’s guidance counselors, made sure to reassure students, saying “If you choose to opt out of the test, you will not lose the points AP classes provide for your GPA. There have been a lot of questions about whether or not these classes still weighed as AP if you did not take the exam, and to clear things up they still do; You just will not receive the college transfer credit unless you take the exam and pass it”.
With that being said, most teachers and students seem pleased with the idea of making their own decisions about the test. The decision has the ability to relieve pressure from teachers to cram everything that could possibly pop up on the test into a student’s brain in a mere eighteen weeks, but also clarifies which students are willing to put in the extra time to pass the test.
However, there are pros and cons to every decision. Mr. Mueller, the schools AP European History teacher, says, “There is always the worry that with the option to not take the [test], students might begin to slack off, or not take their classes as seriously. But then again, we have a staff of teachers dedicated to challenging their students with or without an AP exam”.
Any student taking an AP class this year, either this semester or the one prior that has not yet received a test decision form, please go down to Mr. Cox’s office so he can give you one. The school needs to have a total number of tests to order, so whether the student is planning to take the test or not, they will need to fill out the form.