AP students should know their testing rights

Jeannie Williams, Staff Reporter

With the dread of Advanced Placement exams looming in the near future, students are having to face the question of whether or not they will take their exam. Students even question if they can take it. The confusion surrounding the issue confirms that the policy needs to be clarified.

Some students have been told that they cannot take the exam, hands down. Students who had a “D” or an “F” first semester and showed no improvement in the third quarter are recommended not to take the exam.  Several are under the impression that there is no possibility of them getting college credit for the class whatsoever because of their grades.

In recent years, national AP enrollment has been increasing, but the percentage of students that fail the exams has been steadily increasing as well. Especially now that a bigger push is being placed on test scores when it comes to evaluating teachers, it has become possible for students who are failing the class to view the recommendations of not taking the test as something teachers do to protect themselves.  All of this contributes to the cloud of uncertainty that surrounds the AP exam policy.

What needs to be clarified is this: Students are allowed to take the Advanced Placement exam.  There is nothing that says students that have a “D” or and “F” cannot take the exam.  Students whose teachers have recommended they not take the exam still have the option of doing so. The student will have to pay to take the test, but they will be refunded by the school if they pass. In some cases where students feel that their teacher should have signed them up to take the test, they should discuss it with their teacher or upper house administration before resigning to their fate of wasted AP effort.

Teachers were required to submit the names of which students will be taking the exam in March. In the chaos of checking the grade averages of every student and taking down names of those who will not be taking the exam, it is difficult for teachers to find time to explain the exact foundation of the AP exam policy, but students who have been told they cannot take it deserve to at least be told their options. Besides the boost in GPA, a student’s main cause for taking AP courses is receiving college credit, but no credit can be awarded without taking and passing the exam.

This time of year can get hectic, but time needs to be made for AP teachers and students to review options for students who want to take their exams.  The burden of having to pass to get a refund falls on the student, but they still need to be made aware.  It is too easy for a student to not know they can take the exam before it is too late.

The bottom line is that every student has the opportunity to take the exam.  It falls on them to decide whether or not to take that opportunity.  Whether or not they do is on them, but teachers cannot be blamed for taking the choice away from them.  In order for this to happen, teachers need to be prepared to better educate their students on options for receiving college credit next year and in years to come.  No student should be able to spend a year in a class and find out in the third quarter that they can’t take the exam  that makes the course. Every student has an ability to take the exam and receive college credit.