The consequences of the AP Drop Policy


Jay Schlaegel

With AP testing beginning May 3, students in AP classes have begun reviewing for the four-hour long exams. For AP World History, studying thousands of years worth of history consists of numerous methods of practice.

According to Frisco ISD academic guidelines, a student may only drop a Pre-AP/AP class after the first six weeks grading period or at the end of the semester. At face value, this policy sounds pretty reasonable. But over the past couple of years, the counselors have had an understandable amount of difficulty attempting to apply such a standardized policy to a student body that has proven to be anything but cookie-cutter.

The policy aims to push students to reach their full potentials and it can work very well with underperforming students who need that extra incentive academically. However, primarily catering to underperforming students may leave students performing at full capacity worse off. When such students choose to drop an Pre-AP/AP course at the end of the first six week grading period, not only does the poor grade follow the student but it also becomes registered with on-level status. This means the student’s six weeks grade would show, for example, not an 80 in AP English Language and Composition but that of an 80 in on-level English III, despite the fact that the coursework done to achieve such a grade was done via the advanced curriculum course.

Of course, some people might blame a student’s laziness or his or her ambivalence, but Frisco ISD’s mission (to know every student by name and need) should guarantee care for each type of student: the dyslexic one, the athletic one, but also the “lazy” or “indecisive” one. This kind of education policy expects teenagers to know who they want to be without even giving them enough flexibility to figure that out.

Additionally, fearing the repercussions of this policy creates an excuse for students to set the bar low. Many students have said that they went ahead and chose on-level equivalents of Pre AP/AP courses purely because they were afraid of poor grades the first six-weeks. Over the years, teachers and counselors have made the benefits of taken advanced courses rather clear. Still, the GPA boost does not seem very incentivising when students have to worry about it being taken away.

Obviously, there is no definitive way to meet every student’s needs but it is important to recognize that more needs could be met through practical modifications to the policy. At the very least, the six-weeks grade that follows a student from an advanced class should include the GPA boost from that class. Only then will students receive the credit they deserve. Only then will the policy be valid. Only then will the hardworking, highly active, remarkably achieving students be satisfied.