Spread out our burden, please

Chronicle Staff

By Daniel Rothberg

In about a week, I will take my first set of Advanced Placement examinations. I feel that I have been well prepared in my AP classes to take the exams. So, you might be asking yourself, why the column?

I cannot help but feel that my AP course teachers, through no fault of their own, were forced to sprint through much of the material without being allowed to delve deeper into specific subjects.

Especially in the last month, with APs looming, many teachers have been hard-pressed by the schedule to squeeze in every ounce of material that could possibly pop up on the exam. At the same time, students in many AP courses have been required to do more work each night to keep up with the increased pace.

In the coming years, the administration should consider amending the school year calendar to be more accommodating to AP classes, teachers and students. If the administration would like to see AP course cramming abolished, it should move to revise the calendar to make the school year end in May, after AP testing. In addition, they should begin school a little earlier to offset the days that would be lost by ending the school year in May.

A school year that ends in May would have little to no effect on spring sports teams. According to schedules posted on the Harvard-Westlake Athletics website, every spring sport finishes its season by the middle of May. Unless a team makes it to post-season play, a new schedule would have a relatively small effect on student athletes in spring sports.

If a schedule such as this were to ever come into effect, the school year would still be comprised of the same number of days as this current school year.

However, work in these courses could be spread out for a longer period of time, instead of concentrated in massive reading assignments. This would allow teachers to assign less work per night. Teachers would no longer have to dash through important material and thus, would be able to even better prepare their students for their AP examinations. Additionally, teachers could focus even more attention on analyzing and discussing the material rather than on tailoring their courses to the curriculum laid out by the College Board.

This issue is not one that affects a tiny minority of students. Last year alone, 582 students took 1,800 AP exams. Moreover, as the curriculum is currently set-up, it is impossible for any student to graduate from Harvard-Westlake without having taken an AP course.

If the administration were to make this change it would likely be highly unpopular among the students and parents. If a senior prefect candidate can rally the junior class into uproar now by complaining about the five-day cycle, and the abolition of soda and water in the cafeteria, one can only imagine what type of reaction students would have to a new schedule.

I admit, a new schedule would be far from perfect and most likely would not please the student body in the short-term. Among other things, it would make students angry about starting earlier and shortchange seniors who look forward to the post-AP period of senior year.

These protests should not deter reform. Perhaps, what is advocated in this column is the wrong approach. Nonetheless, the adminstration should at least have a conversation with the faculty and the student body, asking them for suggestions of ways that they could improve the schedule.

Change of any kind always comes with opposition. Eventually, the student body would buy into the idea and come to the conclusion that changing the schedule to better accommodate AP courses would be an improvement for the entire community.