AP, IB Practice Tests
With the Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) tests looming in the near future, many Berkeley High School teachers planned to provide their students with the opportunity to take a full AP or IB practice test in the weeks leading up to the tests. However, due to the unusually high volume of requests and a limited amount of space available, BHS administrators were forced to revoke AP/IB teachers’ applications to use school facilities for practice tests for the rest of the year.
In previous years, said Vice Principal of Academic Choice (AC) Vernon Walton, the administration has received a small amount of requests, mostly from AP science teachers, and they have been able to effectively facilitate and execute the smaller AP/IB practice test schedule. This year, however, a significantly larger influx of last minute appeals left the administration unable to coordinate a fair system to administer the practice tests.
“We do want students to have the opportunity to practice the exams and get the opportunity for that simulated environment,” said Walton. However, he added, “it does pull students out of a number of classes, and we have a facilities crunch with STAR [Standardized Testing and Reporting] tests and the real AP and IB tests taking up space.”
In the place of a practice test that accurately imitates the circumstances of an AP or IB test, teachers will instead have to segment their practice tests across class periods, or find time outside of the regular school day.
Many teachers, including Alex Angell, AC history teacher, are frustrated with their inability to fully prepare their AP/IB students for the upcoming tests.
“For students who have signed up to take the additional challenge of college level AP or IB courses,” said Angell, “there needs to be some acknowledgement or some recognition in this policy that there must be a time in the regularly scheduled school day where these students can practice the skills and information that they’re going to be tested on in the most realistic setting, which literally requires a block of three or four hours.”
Angell, like many other teachers, will split his AP United States History final into four parts to accommodate his students’ need to practice and the administration’s inability to seat a full practice sessions.
For the years to come, both administrators and teachers hope a system can be created earlier in the year to avoid repeating this year’s complications.
Angell sees this as an opportunity to reform BHS’s field trip policy, which teachers must use to excuse their students from the classes they would miss when taking a practice AP or IB test.
“I know BHS is large, complicated organization to administer,” said Angell. “I think this issue over whether or not we can allow practice tests for the AP or IB [tests] when some AP classes have been allowed and other field trips are being allowed is a policy that can be reviewed.”
Walton, on the other hand, sees the solution in the creation of a formal practice AP and IB test schedule months prior to the actual test dates.
“I would like to see AP teachers and teacher leaders getting in a room and hammering out a calendar and getting the requests in early at the beginning of the year,” said Walton. “Instead of all the requests coming in now when all the facilities are taken and teachers have their curriculum set, we already have it on the calendar and we have it set.”