Each May high school kids have a soft two-week vacation when Advanced Placement exams are administered.
AP tests are important because a student can earn college credit by scoring at a certain level. For parents, that may mean a savings of tuition down the line. For teachers, though, it means a loss of instructional time.
Not only do students miss class time while they’re taking the AP tests, but they take additional time off of school to study for them. I’m not saying that this is wrong. However, a different school calendar should be employed, such as minimum days, so that all students attend all of their classes, then are given time to study and take the tests.
Every May I have to modify my lessons since I can’t count on having a full complement of students in my room each day. With students in groups working on research projects, there are days I can’t use my lesson. And there are only so many quiet study days a teacher can offer without throwing off the momentum of daily instruction.
The entire kindergarten through 12 grade school calendar has already been adjusted from the traditional September through June timeframe to August through May mainly to accommodate more instructional days before the AP tests. Much time goes into reshuffling school hours for mandated state testing, but nothing changes for AP testing which matters more for the students’ future. So why not adjust the two weeks of testing to fit the needs of the teachers and the students?
Brian Crosby is a teacher in the Glendale Unified School District and the author of Smart Kids, Bad Schools and The $100,000 Teacher. He can be reached at brian-crosby.com.