In light of recent cheating scandals with celebrities like Laurie Loughlin, the world was shocked to see the college admissions process contorted to serve the agendas of America’s most elite families. But why was everyone so surprised? The College Board has a pedigree of administering tests that cater to affluent families capable of purchasing tutors and study materials for arbitrary metrics of student worth–a complete antithesis to the nonprofit’s objective of “increasing access to opportunity for all students.” And especially given College Board’s recent revision to force students to register for AP’s earlier, how can Clayton High School continue to justify condoning this organization?
The College Board’s policy change for the next fall necessitates registration for AP exams at the beginning of the year rather than after the first semester. Apparently, the new guideline increases motivation among students–the website boasts this revision has created an increase in high (3+) AP scores across a 40,000 student study. However, under closer scrutiny, the data only suggests that more exams are taken; rather than a marked increase in the proportion of high-scoring results, the quantity of total tests has increased.
Of course, if students have already paid a hefty fee, they will be more incentivized to take the test–whether this also induces the initiative to perform better is far removed from the actual data.
More likely, there’s only one winner from this policy change: the organization that garners more and more revenue with each administered test.
Certainly, Clayton High School is not blind to the College Board’s crude tactics to increase its sales. Instead, it is in Clayton’s culture to inflate the importance of standardized tests, and this philosophy more often than not defeats our better judgment.
AP’s constitute an integral portion of Clayton’s academic atmosphere: the courses, the rigor, the tests. But CHS doesn’t have to offer these courses. AP’s are becoming so ubiquitous in the high school climate that having the word “Advanced Placement” in the course name should not weigh in to college admissions. Our school houses excellent teachers that can curate their own curriculum without the oversight of some foreign entity.
College Board’s original intent to create a standardized metric for university admissions is not inherently horrible. However, it’s hard to overlook the lucrative schemes this “not-for-profit” organization employs to pay nineteen of its executives make more than $300,000 per year. (Figures from Americans for Educational Testing Reform.) Is there no system, no institutional change that Clayton High School can seek? Do we have to endorse a company that has a vested interest in promoting high-school anxiety? Can the School District of Clayton continue to uphold its own commitment to socioeconomic equity when the organization it lifts on a pedestal capitalizes from a “pay to win” pyramid structure?
AP courses present value to students who want to gain college credit, and the time and money saved from receiving a 4 or a 5 at many universities reflects a positive facet of AP testing. But if this country’s history has informed the current generation any counsel, it is that we have a history of turning a blind eye to unscrupulous institutions for our own personal convenience.
Change is hard, and this change would be especially hard for Clayton–but as Bill Clinton said, “the price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.” The most valuable education we can give CHS students isn’t what a dangling modifier is–it is recognizing that we are perpetuating a corrupt institution and doing something about it.