Why Does Ramaz Allow Seniors to Drop AP Classes?

Why Does Ramaz Allow Seniors to Drop AP Classes?

As Ramaz juniors climb the high school ladder and become seniors, they have to choose from a wide selection of honors courses. These high-level courses range from talmud to history to calculus and last for two semesters, as opposed to non-honors courses that only last one semester. Many of the honors classes have optional corresponding AP tests available at the end of the school year. AP tests are college-level assessments that the College Board offers in certain subjects to give students an opportunity to show their academic abilities and earn college credits. Not all the honors courses that have corresponding AP tests teach for the test: some teachers do not teach all the relevant material and students who plan on taking the test self study the remaining material. Although seniors have the freedom to choose their courses, many seniors enrolled in honors courses with AP tests decide during the year that they are no longer interested in taking the test for their course. 

Therefore, Ramaz generally allows seniors to drop out of honors classes at the end of the year to exempt the students from AP tests. Seniors seem to be happy about having a choice in taking the test. Ita Newman ’21 thinks that seniors should be able to opt out of an AP test if they understandably end up not wanting to take it. The current policy is sympathetic to seniors that are not interested in taking an unnecessary standardized test. Jacob Schwartz ’21 says that, “Since seniors have the freedom to choose whether to take AP courses, they should also be able to opt out of an AP course or test.” 

Furthermore, there are cases where students decide to take honors classes with a related AP so they can get credits for college, but when students commit to a college, the college does not accept credits for the course. 

Different high schools have unique policies regarding AP courses and tests. Similarly to Ramaz, Frisch allows students who take an AP course to opt out of taking the test. Frisch’s AP courses are the honors courses for that subject, so students can switch from their honors (or AP) course to an Accelerated course if they want to avoid the standardized test.

In contrast to Ramaz and Frisch, several other schools such as SAR, Central, and Kushner require students to take the AP test if they take an AP course. At SAR, the AP tests are a crucial part of the AP courses because students in those courses take the AP test instead of the final exam that other levelled classes must take in that subject. One SAR student heard Ramaz does not require students in AP courses to take the AP test and said, “I understand why a school would not require students to take the AP test because students are not even required to submit their AP scores to colleges. Nonetheless, I think that taking the AP test makes the AP course worthwhile.” 

A new policy in the math department for this upcoming year is that students in honors courses are required to take the corresponding AP test. Ms. Shine explained that “many students decide to take honors courses because they think it looks good for their college application but are not serious about the class… and that ruins it for the kids who are committed.” Students like Ita and Jacob appreciated the flexibility in not having to take the test. Another student said “it seems unfair that students in honors classes have to take AP tests now. Some students decide the class is not the right fit for them by the end of the year.” 

There are both benefits and detriments to having a choice in taking AP courses and tests. Students generally appreciate that the school usually allows students to opt out of taking a related AP test, and dislike the math department’s decision to make the AP test mandatory.