Keith Stone co-editor-in-chief
Students need to be rewarded for their hard work. If they are taking the hardest classes in high school (APs), they should get some benefit. There is one step that teachers can take to reward students for taking these challenging classes, and for studying incredibly hard for the AP test at the end of the year. That simple step is just changing the grading scale: Students who get a five on the AP test should get an A in the class second semester and students who get a four should get at least a B. Teachers should fill out grade change forms for these successful students.
The AP tests a student’s mastery of all of the content of the class from a whole year. It is like a final on steroids. The amount of preparation it takes to study for an AP test is preparation like no other. Many students start halfway through the school year, carving through chapter after chapter, diligently taking notes to prepare. This behavior deserves a reward if the studying pays off. When the fateful test day in early May comes, the students who have spent months preparing may not be the students with perfect grades in the class, but they have put in the time and effort and deserve a good grade. More importantly, in today’s world where quid pro quo is the norm even in negotiations between students and administration, students should be compensated in some way for getting scores that cast the school in a positive light. One of the largest categories in rating high schools is how well students score on AP tests. If these students are getting scores that drive up Beverly’s rankings, it makes sense that they should be rewarded for their work.
Helping students’ second semester grade based on AP scores also makes sense because the difficulty of the various AP classes at different high schools is often incredibly different. At some schools, the AP Chemistry class could be brutally hard, while at others, the teacher could be lax and just give students As. Although the students in the difficult class will score higher on the AP, they will still have lower grades on transcripts, possibly barring them from the college of their choice just because they had a better, more intense teacher. That is not fair.
While some people might say that giving As or Bs based purely on one test leads to slacking all semester and then cramming for the AP, if the students manage to get fours or fives, they have expertise in that topic. No clueless crammer will be able to pull off such a high score without hours of studying and true knowledge.
If our school wants to further encourage dedicated studying for AP tests, all teachers have to do is agree to give B’s for fours and A’s for fives. If the student earns an A in the class but only a three or four on the test, their grade remains the same.