Cutting advanced placement calculus and chemistry irks parents
According to LUHSD Administrative Assistant Lisa Cavin, the classes were cut due to lack of interest. There are 12 students enrolled in AP calculus and 10 students enrolled in AP chemistry.
The district will be holding an AP class meeting at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 21 to discuss the options including recruiting students, offering the classes before or after school, or online classes. The district also offers AP English and biology.
LHS parent Janet Starcevich said she hopes the district can find a way, even if it’s at a small financial loss, to provide teachers and a classroom to offer the AP classes and to give college-bound students the opportunity to show the colleges they vigorous took courses and were successful.
“Because if you cannot demonstrate that you were successful in vigorous courses, it doesn’t matter if you’re identified GATE or if you have all straight As, you have to show you survived rigor, because they aren’t going to take a chance on a student who might fail,” she said.
She said online classes are excellent as far as online goes, but there is no mentoring involved and didn’t know how the students would be able to do labs.
LHS parent Kim Keith, who was representing her daughter who was on the biology field trip, said her daughter wants to attend an Ivy League school and would need the AP classes along with many of her friends.
In a strategic planning meeting, LHS Assistant Principal Tom Ready said students should be challenged, citing what Ready said, Keith said students wouldn’t be challenged if the AP classes are eliminated.
Parent Emma Lopez has two students at Lassen High School and two in seventh and eighth-grades at Janesville School. She said her children are looking forward to taking the AP classes and the challenge of higher rigor classes.
Lopez said she is afraid if the high school doesn’t prepare students with high rigor courses with the support group of teachers and parents, the students are going to fail their freshmen year of college.
Other parents said if AP classes aren’t offered at LHS, they feel they would have to take their child out of LHS and enroll them elsewhere so they could be offered classes to prepare them for college.
Marjorie Lattka said one of the choices her daughter was given, was to take Chem 45 at Lassen Community College. She said the class was an introduction to chemistry, not a replacement for AP chemistry. She also said the class would not transfer to a four-year college.
The class is offered during the evening and Lattka said her daughter, along with many other students are involved with extracurricular activities.
She also said offering classes during zero periods, before and after school is not acceptable in place of offering AP classes during the school day.
The concerns were brought up during public input portion of the meeting and the board took no action. However, AP classes were on the agenda under the superintendent report.
Superintendent Rebekah Barakos-Cartwright presented all the AP test scores from 2001 to the 2006-2007 school year. For AP chemistry there has been an average pass rate of 0 percent in the past six years.
In 2006-2007, Barakos-Cartwright said 30 students took the AP chemistry, one took the test and didn’t pass.
Over six years, there has been a 16 percent pass rate for AP calculus. Last school year, 20 students took the test and no one took the test.
In the fall, school guidance counselors, teachers and administration worked together to emphasize the fact every student who took the class had to take the test in order to see the results. The district also held parent meetings regarding AP classes.
Parents also signed a contract, which says by passing the AP test students receive college credit for the specific subject. If the students do not take the test, they will receive honors credit and still receive the extra points on their grade point average.
After her report, the board members gave comments.
Board Trustee Dr. Hal Meadows said he was in favor of keeping the AP classes available to the students, however, with proposed education cuts in the state budget, he said something else might have to go in order to keep the classes.
Board trustee Karen Bradbury said she thought AP classes can be extremely valuable when students show interest in the class and the test, but she said its not happening.
She said one out of 30 students took the AP chemistry test and it’s a useless statistic.
Bradbury said, “It doesn’t do the students justice, it doesn’t do the instructor justice.”
Board Clerk Jon Archer said the district has to find a way to make the AP classes work.
Irking the parents in attendance, Board President Ken Theobald said he was embarrassed by the test scores and asked where the parents were.
LHS parent Nancy Cardenas said she was putting it back on the teachers and administration. She said the district has to educate parents on how important the tests are. Cardenas said she doesn’t know the benefits or importance of her daughter taking an AP test. The tests costs $85 and Cardenas said she is willing to pay for her child to take the test if it keeps the AP classes or provides more funding for the school.
“But if you don’t educate your parents of what the benefits of these tests are, then you’re going to get results like that. You guys need to be more proactive with your parents and AP kids,” Cardenas said.
LHS teacher and FFA advisor Holly Egan also suggested scheduling the tests at the end of the year might play a factor. Egan said she has former students who didn’t take the AP test because they had already been accepted to colleges and had scholarships. The AP tests are also scheduled during the week of the school’s annual biology field trip to Patrick’s Point, which could play a part in students’ decision in not taking the test.
LHS math teacher Gary VanLandingham said he and science teacher Jim Ernaga don’t necessarily emphasize students passing the AP test. If they did, VanLandingham said there wouldn’t be 30 students in AP chemistry.
Rather, the measure of success is having students prepared for college classes.
VanLandingham said he didn’t want to become one of the high schools that only let students into AP classes because they were going to pass the test.
He also said passing the AP test and possibly skipping a class in college doesn’t necessarily drive the students to take the test, rather it’s earning the extra grade point average.
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