AP: The Lowdown

Kelly+Boykin+and+her+dog+Coop+teaching+online+courses+from+her+home+in+Rico%2C+Colo.

Photo courtesy of Kelly Boykin

Kelly Boykin and her dog Coop teaching online courses from her home in Rico, Colo.

Zach Weissman, Staff Writer

TELLURIDE — Advanced Placement (AP) classes are high school courses that give students an opportunity to earn college credit for their work.

These classes are more challenging than standard classes and are usually  more work, but a big motivating factor for why someone would take these classes is that they can boost your GPA because they are “weighted” on a five point scale rather than four point normal scale.

To get college credit, students are required to take the AP test at the end of the year, which until now was a grueling four hour test that was designed to test their knowledge from the whole year. This year, however, like almost everything else, coronavirus has changed the way it will work.  

Kelly Boykin, who teaches AP Government at Telluride High School, said that things are very different for AP students this year.

“The pandemic and going online has been the biggest challenge,” Boykin said. “We have been forced to go into a reality of zooms, trying to replicate what would happen in the classroom. The reality is that one to two zoom sessions per week are not the same as four class sessions per week. The students are having to do quite a bit on their own.” 

The biggest change to the test itself is that it will only be 45 minutes and it will be taken at home online. AP has eliminated the multiple choice sections, so people who do better on those than on “free response” questions will be put at a disadvantage.

Like so many things during this pandemic, this seems a little unfair.  THS AP Statistics teacher, Scott Lambert, said that even though this new format might not be fair, students don’t really have a choice.

Some concern for the possibility of cheating on the test due to the new format has been raised but both Boykin and Lambert say this is not a concern. Lambert pointed out the tests will be open note, so students “can’t cheat.”

The arrival of the coronavirus has deprived seniors of so many things that mark the end of our high school careers: prom, graduation, and a space to say goodbye to friends and the place where we spent so many hours of our teenage years.

We might not miss the extra hours of testing, but for some kids who have spent time and energy studying, they won’t get to showcase their knowledge. 

Students should not expect this new format to stay after we return to traditional teaching.  

“This pandemic is an unprecedented situation so solutions that might be reasonable for this year would not work in the future,” Boykin said.