by Jonathan Weaver
Of the dozens of Armstrong School District students who take Advanced Placement exams at the end of the school year, about 10 percent will not test as ‘possibly qualified’ with a 2 out of 5 score.
And those 10 percent not only cost themselves potential college credit, but might also have to reimburse the school district for a portion of the test monetarily in the future.
In the proposal by Coordinator of Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment and Accountability Shauna Braun-Zukowski to the school board of directors last night, she explained that the Armstrong School District pays the total $89 testing fee upfront for all students.
But, some students aren’t even making an effort, which can be ‘frustrating.’
“We had some students in the past that did not take the AP exam seriously – some students were not even opening the test booklet,” Braun-Zukowski said.
“What we’re proposing…is that Armstrong School District students would be assessed a $15 standard test usage fee for scoring below a 2 on the AP exam. We would still upfront the bulk of the AP exam, but they would be assessed if they did not get a 2 or above.”
In an audit comparison to 11 school districts, including Freeport, Karns City, and Apollo-Ridge, Pine-Richland reimburses 50 percent of the test paid for by students if they receive a score of 3 out of 5, and South Butler reimburses 100 percent based on the same score guideline.
Only two other school districts do the same.
Board Director Larry Robb disagreed with the proposal logistically and philosophically.
“I think if we’re going to require kids to take it, some kids are going to do very well. I’d like everyone to get (2) or above, but I think if the kids are on the fence, and they’re looking at that, that might discourage them from taking the course,” Robb said.
He added that it might also be hard to collect the penalty at the end of the school year.
“I think it’s going to be a real issue trying to collect the money when the AP exam results come back,” Robb said. “And for $15 I think that’s a lot of work, and philosophically I don’t agree with that.”
Robb is also Program Director and past Superintendent in the Freeport Area School District.
Zukowksi could imagine the difficulty in testing reimbursement, but did not foresee the proposal affecting class sizes.
Since Zukowski became part of the school’s administration staff, she has implemented AP Statistics, AP Computer Science, AP American History, AP French and AP Spanish into the courses offered.
Two of those – AP French and AP Spanish – would be added in Fall 2014 if school board directors approve of 11 new course offerings.
“We would be increasing the rigor on French and Spanish 3 and 4 to prepare students for the AP,” Zukowski said.
The course offerings and the Advanced Placement proposal – part of the same resolution – will be voted on at 7:30PM Monday during the regular voting meeting at West Hills Intermediate.
During the board reorganization in a special meeting, Region II Board Director Joseph Close was voted Board President.
Close – the board president since December 2011 – was the only board director nominated for the leadership post, and was instated unanimously, 8-0.
Board Director James Rearic was absent from both meetings.
Fellow Region II Board Director Christopher Choncek was also re-elected unanimously.
Board newcomer Timothy Scaife will serve as a Lenape Tech Joint Operating Committee member. He will fill the seat left after D. Royce Smeltzer was not reelected.
All other board directors will serve as alternative committee members.