Are High School Students Paying for an A?

AP testing signs used every year to point students where to go with tests being held off campus at the local church.

Any student’s decision to take an AP class is, in part, influenced by the promise of a five point bump to the final class average. Thanks to new Tennessee state policy, that promise has now changed.

Students must now sit for the AP exam in order to earn the added five points to the final grade.

Generally, AP testing is beneficial to a student, helping to showcase his or her knowledge of an advanced course.

Regardless of how students feel about the requirement to sit through the exam to obtain five points, AP tests being administered are still an option to further challenge students academically.

Ms. Poulsen, Central’s AP test coordinator, shares information about policy implications. Since these tests are not administered until May, the five points added to the student’s final grade will not be calculated until after the AP test that student signs up to take.

This result could be troubling for seniors when applying to colleges and turning in transcripts, as well as class rankings. 

When asked if the five points are necessary, junior Lily Marcum states, “absolutely without a doubt.”

This information also raises concerns for those who may be at risk of failing an AP class without these five points, or want to get that desired A for all their hard work.

When asked about overall averages, AP teacher Mrs. Turner predicts, “[with] more students taking the test that ordinarily wouldn’t have, you [may] see the average score decrease.” This possibility could become problematic when seeing states’ averages and abilities to show knowledge of course content.

Not only do students feel they need the coveted five points, but these new policies given by the state create problems for people dealing with financial issues around paying for the exams.

Ms. Poulsen the AP testing coordinator for Central

However Ms. Poulsen assures the help of financial aid and paperwork for those needing assistance, reporting, “the school has never turned away a student for the inability to pay.”

These new requirements and policies leave one asking where Tennessee is headed with the policies of AP testing.

When asked, Ms. Poulsen says that soon the state might require any enrolled student to take the AP test, regardless of point incentives, but in this case the state “will have no choice” but to pay for the exams if they are going to require them.


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