Courtesy of Pioneer Institute
For some East students, AP testing is a routine that marks the end of a challenging AP course. In the past, the payment deadline for AP testing was in March and the test was taken in May. However, the College Board has recently announced the new deadline for testing payments will be in the fall, leaving some students both surprised and angered. Reasons for this sudden change have been debated, but nevertheless, the test payment deadline should be left in March where it has always been.
The new deadline traps students in their AP courses. Students often need the fall to feel out a class and evaluate if they will have the ability to pass the cumulative AP test at the end of the year. Therefore, by making the deadline in the fall, students are forced to rush into deciding whether or not they want to take the AP exam that year. This is especially challenging for sophomores or students who are taking an AP class for the first year. They do not know how they will do in the class and if they will be confident enough in their knowledge of the class to even take the exam. The College Board has not released any information regarding a refund policy if students decide not to take the exam come the spring which may discourage lower income students to sign up for the test. The College Board has also tried to distract hesitant students by showing statistics of students last year who registered in the fall and how they did better and more minority groups were performing better. However, if students do not know if they plan on definitely staying in that class they may be discouraged to sign up. This may result in the loss of potential college credit which is the main purpose most students take these exams.
Changing the deadline also limits teacher’s ability to assist students in the process of deciding whether or not to take the exam for their subject. Often, teachers do not get an understanding of their student’s capabilities until months into the school year at which point, the decision on whether they will take the test or not should already have been made. After a discussion with Mrs. Kelly Radbill, a junior-year AP English teacher, regarding the new deadline changes she saw the flaw from the teacher’s standpoint.
“By the time we get to the first benchmark it’s November, and I really don’t know them as writers yet,” said Radbill.
Radbill offers to sit down with each of her students individually and assist them in making their decision on whether or not to take the exam and with the new deadline, she does not know if that will still be a realistic routine. Schools like East that start in September do not have many school days and most of the beginning of the year is spent assessing where each student is individually. So, if a teacher does not know where a students performance level is in the beginning of the year, how can they know where they could potentially be come springtime?
Another problem this change creates is that AP teachers may have to alter their curriculum. Some teachers, like Radbill, give some lessons that are directly related to the questions students may see on the AP test. Typically, these lessons come later in the year, but now with decisions needing to be made much earlier, teachers must find a way to fit in the example test questions, and beginning of the year work within the small time frame.
“I definitely think it will change the way I prepare a little bit,” said Radbill. Although some will argue that teachers are used to changing around their curriculum year after year, but they should not have to be used to it. Like most people, teachers grow from learning a perfect system for their curriculum and disturbing that balance can throw them off course. This change is not necessary enough to risk the quality of a teacher’s lessons. Teachers will feel pressure to cram too much in such a small period of time- never mind the students who may miss the class day where they explain the test or move up a level after the deadline.
In the end, some students may ultimately benefit from early registration and it should be a choice as to whether you register in the fall or spring. Students should not be rushed into a decision this costly and important to their academic career and the College Board should be understanding of that fact.