AP Students Face Setbacks Due to COVID-19


Tammy Nguyen

The College Board website gives insight about the various courses offered in the AP program.

Tammy Nguyen, Reporter

AP students at most high schools in Wichita are facing more challenges this year as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact the learning environment of their college level courses.

Earlier this March, USD 259 announced the cancellation of the remaining 2019-2020 school year, making the majority of students unable to finish their education as direct instruction was put on pause. During this time, AP students were concerned about the possibility of taking their AP exams as the lockdown did not allow in-person test taking. Online exams were put in place to give these students the chance to receive the college credit. However, it came with several technical difficulties and submitting issues, which leave students this year to wonder: if the pandemic does not settle down soon, what are the possibilities of taking online exams again this year?

The College Board, the organization that oversees the AP program, made a statement regarding the 2021 AP exams.

In a statement on their website, the College Board said, “Given the uncertainties of the 2020-21 school year, some students may feel unsure about taking AP Exams in May. So that students feel comfortable registering by the fall deadline, this year there will be no fees whatsoever if a student decides not to test or to cancel their exams. Every AP student should keep their options open by registering for the exam on time because there will still be a $40 fee for late orders. The AP Program will support in-school testing in 2021 because administering exams in schools maximizes access and opportunity. If safety concerns still prohibit any students from testing at a school, we will provide a contingency testing option that contains full course content.”

However, Wichita AP students were not put at ease by this statement because the school district implemented a new 4×4 school schedule in cause of the pandemic. With this schedule, high school students have all their odd hour classes during the first semester. All their even hour classes will occur during the second semester. In addition to the new bell schedule, remote learning does not make the situation any better.

“For me, it was kind of extra frightening because they put all of my hard classes for first semester, and I’m taking three APs at once online, so it was—it was kinda’ scary,” Jr. Sophia Kasri said.

“The new 4×4 schedule—it kinda’ affected me in a way where since I have to take two of my AP Classes every day, instead of doing like the other classes. Since I have less variety, it kinda’ makes me have to rethink my schedule in a way where it’s kinda’ decreasing my ability to learn as much as I can if it was just a normal schedule,” Jr. Stanley Nguyen said.

The students are not the only ones affected by the changes as their teachers have concerns with virtual learning as well.

“I worry about communication during class because we do a lot of discussion, and I didn’t know how that would work as far as on a computer, if I get the same type of engagement, and because I can’t see faces, I don’t know who is actually paying attention, or taking notes, or writing stuff down,” AP Language and Composition teacher Jacob Thimesch said.

“When you’re virtual, you have to go through and call the student,” AP Chemistry teacher Scott Murphy said. “The student has to go through and ask you a question. You can’t just kinda’ walk next to a student, look over their shoulder, and see if they’re needing just a little help, or you can see their kind of hesitating when they go through and do the assignment.”

For the students currently enrolled in AP courses during this first semester, they are facing disadvantages because of the 4×4 schedule when it comes to the exams in the spring.

“We would learn all of this, but we wouldn’t have those classes in the spring ‘cause they would end in like January, so basically we would have to memorize all that and memorize stuff from, well, beginning of this year. Then that, with along taking the other classes that we have and the new classes, a lot of things will be forgotten,” Jr. Matthew Brown said.

Teachers of current AP courses are trying to prepare for the next semester as students will need them to provide studying material for the exams.

“Now that I have all the students through Teams and they all have email addresses with the district,” AP Psychology teacher Rob Maddux said, “it’s nice because I can send the materials to review more easily than in the past, and if I wanted to like during a seminar, they wouldn’t even have to leave their class. They could just join a review activity. I feel like everyone having a laptop and having Teams will help make up for the fact that we have that long break before the test.”

As of now, College Board claims that traditional AP testing will occur in May 2021. However, with the unpredictable future of the pandemic, this plan may change.