It’s commonly thought that level one students have easier access to Advanced Placement courses, but that isn’t necessarily true. Prerequisites exist, such as the required B- in both Biology and Civics needed to take AP Psychology, but they aren’t completely needed. Waivers can be signed, and anyone can take the course if they adamantly want to. The issue usually lies in student interest and perseverance.
“It depends on personal drive and determination,” Jennifer O’Brien, AP United States History teacher, said. From her experience, they’re very much capable of the excellence expected from AP students. “Yes, they [level two students who have taken APUSH] have done well. But again, it depends on the interest,” O’Brien said.
AP classes are designed for good students rather than exclusively level one students. “It helps if they are level one, but I think the level most students are in is more of an indication of what kind of student they are [than] necessarily their intelligence,” Eric VanFrachen, AP Psychology instructor, said. He’s had many level 2/3 students in his class. “Most did well, but I think for a few they were over-matched,” VanFrachen said.
There are also negatives that come with Ledyard High School’s anyone-can-take-AP policy. Classes with students that don’t quite match the pace, for example, can suffer a decrease in exposure to material. “Since it has been an open enrollment I have had to spend more time going over basic content and concepts. We cover less … as a result,” VanFrachen said.
The lower level student entering the class can also be significantly harmed. “The danger is that the student could lose their passion for learning when they’re absolutely crushed by the material that they might not be able to reach,” David Bednarz, AP Biology teacher, said. Students that may not be prepared for AP can lose their desire to learn and become disappointed or frustrated with themselves. “If they’re a straight B student in a level two class and they want to do AP, that’s going up two levels … and they’re going to have to modify their expectations because with the same effort, they’re not going to get to that B,” Bednarz said.
So while students of all levels can be waived into the AP class of their choice, their decision may ultimately do more harm than good. The general consensus has been reached among teachers though: if the student has the drive, interest and effort, the level does not matter too much.
Carina Wang, Staff Writer
Sophomore Carina Wang is a staff writer for the 2015-2016 Colonel. She is on the FIRST Robotics team.