BENNETT: College Board ignores impact on block schedule


The walls are plastered with the signs – “AP Test Registration – Soft Deadline” – (it passed last week if anyone was wondering). And while some precocious students (or some very motivated parents) might’ve signed themselves up for an AP Test or two, most merely focused on the important thing – it’s Christmas. That means buying presents. And no one wants to spend all that money on an AP test like it is their own self-bought present. Because that is just sad.

But at least we have the option of signing up until March. While I might know at this point if I’m ready for an AP test on my fall-term psychology course thanks to our block schedule, I’m still only halfway through my AP block classes, and more importantly – I haven’t started my spring AP Stats class. And the odds of me signing up for that any earlier than I have to are slim to none.

This is the part of the story where College Board’s new AP test registration deadline makes its appearance. The new deadline will require students next year to sign up for the test in November, rather than in March. It will be as if those “AP Test Registration – Soft Deadline” signs left out that lovely little ending note of “Soft Deadline.”

College Board did not take schools with block schedules into account when announcing the deadline change. If the change applies to our school as is, students with AP courses in the spring will have to sign up for the test before starting the class. RJUHSD is planning meet with a College Board official to determine if an exception can be made for our school. Otherwise, students will be forced to buy that $94 Christmas present without even knowing if it is something they want.

Because this impact on schools with block schedules wasn’t something College Board intended, let’s all hope they make the right choice and come up with an alternate deadline for RHS. A student should not pay $94 for a test for which they do not even know if they are prepared. Furthermore, a student’s parents should not have to add excessive late and cancellation fees to the increasingly high cost of students pursuing college education that already includes college applications, the SAT and ACT, and potential outside tutoring.

If students plan to take the test by the initial deadline, but change their mind and register after the deadline, they will face a $40 late fee. Or, if they take the risk, register early for the test and find themselves in over their head, or facing extenuating circumstances, they have to take it anyway or pay a $40 cancellation fee. It’s like you are returning your $94 Christmas present to the store – and you pay them for taking it back!

College Board determined to make these changes after finding that, in pilot schools, more students took the exam, and scored higher on it, when they were required to commit to it earlier – likely because they are more “invest[ed]” from the start. Which is all good and dandy until you consider the fact that the way College Board is trying to incentivize this for students is by providing them with extra fees… paid to College Board.

There are ways to encourage students to fully invest themselves in their courses without dangling the threat of cost and fees over their heads.

There is no reason that the default for incentivizing students should rely on the fear of losing yet another $100 to a College Board assessment.

Well, no reason from the student’s point of view. College Board must see it differently.