Large majority thinks AP classes should be worth the weight

(Graphic by Jack Christian)

Advanced Placement (AP) classes are harder than regular classes because of a more rigorous curriculum. Even so, AP classes are weighed on the same scale as other classes on the SCDS honor roll.

This has proven to be an unpopular policy.

An Octagon poll of 110 high schoolers on March 16 showed that 85 percent of high-school students would prefer it if AP classes were weighted higher than regular classes for the honor roll.

Senior Isabelle Leavy, who is currently taking five AP classes and one regular one, would support the weighing of AP classes for honor roll.

“I have good grades, but I’m taking a large number of AP classes, and it really does take a toll on me,” she said. “This last (quarter) I wasn’t on the honor roll, but I think I really deserve that recognition because of the course load.”

But it’s not looking like this system will change anytime soon.

Head of high school Brooke Wells said that the honor roll should be more inclusive and celebrate good students, regardless of how many AP classes they’re taking. He said that if the honor roll were weighted, it would be skewed in favor of those taking AP’s.

“You don’t find many AP students who aren’t on the honor roll,” he said. “It’s not comparative and doesn’t have a certain percentage of students; it has a set GPA requirement.”

Daniel Neukom, history teacher and ex-dean of students, had similar thoughts.

He said that if a student is taking an AP class, then they’re obviously skilled in that subject and thus it’s the right fit for them.

“We try to match a student’s ability to their subject,” he said. “It’s worrisome when some students will say something like ‘I got a B in AP US History, but it’s technically an A.’

“No, you did B-level work in that class.”

According to Neukom, the system was put in place sometime in the ‘90s, when the school started to offer more AP classes.

However, the GPA that the school sends to colleges uses the weighted GPA’s. College counselor and English teacher Jane Bauman says that we use the weighted grades to put students in their best light.

“The weighted GPA gives an idea of a student’s achievement and  the rigor of the coursework,” Bauman said.

The Cum Laude program also weights AP classes differently.

Richard Day, president of Country Day’s Cum Laude chapter and French teacher, said that Cum Laude recognizes what the UC system recognizes.

According to him, the AP classes are weighted differently because they’re college-level classes, so the top students are going to take them.

“We have so many students taking AP classes that it only makes sense to take them into account,” he said.

Wells said that the reason that Cum Laude is weighted and honor roll isn’t is because Cum Laude is supposed to celebrate students who do well in the most difficult classes, but honor roll is supposed to celebrate good students.

The honor roll used to be published every quarter in the Friday email, but it stopped this year for the high school.

Wells said the administration stopped it because students should be celebrating their achievement rather than competing with others.

But does honor roll really matter that much? According to Bauman, it doesn’t.

“(Colleges) look at grades and rigor and don’t pay much attention to honor roll,” she said.

“Honor roll is a nice way to give a nod to students who are working hard – and maybe provide a little extra motivation to those who need it.”

By Quin LaComb

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