As Pandemic Rages, AP Classes Face Challenges

Taking+an+exam.+Photo+purchased+from+BigStock.com.

Taking an exam. Photo purchased from BigStock.com.

Brian Gamble, News Editor

As the semester comes to close, AP courses continue to face unique challenges with a mixture of in-person and remote learning.

To adjust to the pandemic, AP Studio Art teacher Brent Ridge has supplemented his course with new online components.

“We are using the tools of Canvas to help create a class that can function in concurrent learning as well as prepare the students to work in a mobile format with an artistic designed for this class,” Ridge said. “One of the interesting things we are doing in Canvas, is the students are using an ePortfolio to make a blog of their art that documents their progress throughout the year.”

While online resources have helped Ridge adjust his lessons to the hybrid format, some classes have been forced into a fully online setup.

According to AP Computer Science teacher Jason Bock, for the most part, his class lends itself well to hybrid learning.

“But I will say that it has been difficult to find a way to have students work in pairs, which is something the curriculum I really encourage,” Bock says. “We can still do through Zoom breakout rooms, but it’s just not same. Nothing beats in-person learning and collaboration.”

Nico Jaffer ’23 is taking AP Physics online this year through One Schoolhouse, which is entirely online.

“It’s very tough, not only the course but also learning in a completely online environment, which is something that I had never done before,” Jaffer said. “I like to have the ability to communicate with my teacher, so it’s good that I can set up times to meet with the online teacher to go over problems that I might have. Overall, it’s a good challenge.”

Zakkai Mares-Van Praag ‘22, who is taking both AP Calculus (AB) and AP English Language and Composition, expressed optimism for how classes have gone so far.

“Both my AP teachers have handled their classes as best they could,” Praag said. “Ms. Houndegla and Dr. Reese have been utilizing the College Board website to allow us to take practice sections of the test and see how we do, which I was not able to do previously. At times, it has been difficult to organize one-on-one meetings or catch up when I’m falling behind, but other than that, I believe the AP teachers are doing the best to keep up with the curriculum in these challenging times.”

Recently, the College Board announced that it plans to hold AP exams as usual, moving away from last last year’s changes at the beginning of the pandemic. Along with adding contingency testing dates, it was shared that, “If a school is closed or coronavirus-related risks prevent a student from testing at a school, the AP coordinator will be able to authorize a full-length digital contingency exam that can be taken at home.”

With AP exams scheduled to start in early May, there is still time for the testing format to change, but as of now, the College Board hopes for in-person exams to be administered as in prior years.