A Project for Better Journalism chapter

To AP, or not to AP

Northampton High School students have just completed taking Advance Placement exams and some students feel the exams are not necessary, and the scores may not be useful.

Administration requires NHS students enrolled in an AP class to take the exam. The testing requirement started several years ago when the school was part of the National Math and Science Initiative. They gave NHS a grant to offer more AP classes and part of the grant required students to take the exam, said NHS guidance counselor Lisann Giordano. She said there is a correlation between success in college and AP classes, and “the long term goal for a student is to provide them with rigorous course preparation and part of that involves taking exams.”

NHS guidance counselor, Maureen Moore, said another reason for the requirement was that teachers feel it’s important for students to take the test after completing the class.

Seniors Jules Gillis and Lily Zogbaum both said that the exams are unnecessary, “because the level of understanding you get from the class can’t ultimately be transferred into a four hour exam,” said Gillis. Zogbaum also shares a similar opinion with Gillis saying, “ I feel like your knowledge from the class shouldn’t necessarily be dependent upon how well you do on one test.”

Zogbaum and Gillis both enrolled in AP classes due to their interest in the subject, but Zogbaum also enrolled in them knowing that they would look good on a college transcript. Zogbaum sent her junior AP scores to colleges because they can help with merit scholarships and awards if the scores are high enough.
A problem that some students are facing is that most private school do not accept AP scores. Gillis’ school, Skidmore, did not accept them. Zogbaum said that the tests accurately show how well she did in the class, but Gillis said they do not accurately represent the understanding from the class.

Moore said there has been discussion about changing the requirements in department meetings but there has to be a bigger discussion about AP in general at the high school.