Learning to balance AP classes online


Michael Martin

While most students began the 2020-2021 school year virtually, special education students participated in face-to-face classes since the first day. Parents and teachers agree that maintaining structure and routines is beneficial to special education students, which is difficult to do virtually.

Trisha Dasgupta, Staff Reporter

School districts around the nation have switched to online lessons in response to the rapid spread of COVID-19, presenting a unique challenge for students and teachers taking or teaching Advanced Placement classes. 

“I am worried that the shutdown will greatly affect my performance on AP tests because I believe that advanced placement classes require diligent effort from both students and teachers to achieve success,” sophomore Tarinini Pankati said. “The shutdown that has occurred has limited the student-teacher interaction and learning. I learn really well in a classroom setting and from my peers and e-Learning does greatly limit this.”

For classes such as AP seminar and the AP Capstone program that have unique tests that involve multimedia presentations, the shift to online class has significantly altered schedules.

“Honestly, we’re not sure yet [as to how the schedule will change],” AP Capstone teacher Chad Doty said via email. “The district has asked for a due date extension for both courses, which will give students more time to work on their projects. Because there is a requirement for students in both courses to give a formal presentation to their teacher (me), it isn’t clear.” 

The College Board announced multiple changes to AP testing schedules on March 20, including extended deadlines and an option for students to take their AP tests online from home. 

“As schools and communities navigate the unprecedented challenges posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the health and safety of educators and students are the AP Program’s top priorities,” The College Board states on their website. “For the 2019–20 exam administration only, students can take a 45-minute online free-response exam at home. Educator-led development committees are currently selecting the exam questions that will be administered.

While the College Board has announced that they are working on ways to keep students from cheating, Doty has his concerns. 

“I’m skeptical [about online testing],” Doty said. “Academic honesty is already a serious issue for students in AP classes, so I think the risk of cheating is elevated in a less regulated environment.”