The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

AP Science Grading in Question

In the future, Biology AP and Chemistry AP students may no longer receive the luxury of requesting grade changes to reflect their AP scores. Principal Wynne Satterwhite and the Leadership Team are considering whether this practice should be discontinued.

Later this year, Satterwhite will allow teachers to present their arguments to the Leadership Team as to why they should or should not pursue this practice and decide whether the lack of alignment should even be addressed with a school-wide policy or not. The decision is far from complete as this issue will be a topic of conversation for the faculty and the Leadership team during second semester.

Satterwhite emphasizes that a school-wide policy regarding the changing of grades based on AP scores has never existed.

“This has been a teacher’s deal just as grades are,” Satterwhite said.

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The biology and chemistry teachers’ policy is that if a student receives a grade below an A in a Biology or Chemistry AP class but a 5 on the AP test, the student may go back to their teacher and request that the grade be changed to an A. However, this idea of rewarding students for excellent AP scores is not consistent throughout all AP classes. In fact, the issue was brought to Satterwhite’s attention when a parent asked why his or her child who was taking Physics AP did not receive an A after obtaining a 5 on the AP test.

“… There has never been consistency even within departments,” Satterwhite said. “I brought this up with the Science department this year due to a parent’s question.”

Chemistry AP teacher Carl Babb and Biology AP teacher Suzanne Williams differ in opinion over whether this practice should be continued.

“I only did it because everyone else had done it before me,” Babb said. “It doesn’t really affect too many people…maybe 10% [of students] benefit.”

Biology AP teacher Suzanne Williams has different reasons for awarding A’s to high AP test scorers.

“I think when the kids can absorb that much information…they deserve the A,” Williams said. “They’ve proved they’ve learned all the material.”

Williams and Babb agree that abolishing their policy may decrease enrollment in Biology and Chemistry AP.

Mountain View High School Chemistry AP teacher Doctor Katie Thornburg does not support changing grades.

“Our AP classes are geared to much more than just passing a test,” Thornburg said. “The grade in the course … represents what the student has accomplished during the whole year, as opposed to during a three-hour testing period.”

Many students disapprove of the idea of changing the current system.

“[Eliminating this option] would be taking away motivation,” Biology AP student sophomore Seena Burns said. “[Students] still have to learn the material. It just provides more flexibility for the student’s learning style.”

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