Advanced Placement (AP) typically allows students to take college-level courses in high school. However, many students are unaware of the four additional programs that AP offers.
The AP Capstone Award is awarded to students who complete research projects and pass the exam within the AP Seminar and AP Research classes. AP Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Achievement is a recognition given to students who complete courses within the same educational “pathway.” Engineering, biomedical science and computer science are the three pathways currently included in the AP PLTW program. AP with WE Service is a service learning program that applies what is learned in class to the real world and allows students to see that what they learn has a purpose in real life. Some teachers who have experience with the program say that this program as an extension of their curriculum could help students better their work in the classroom.
“I believe [AP with WE Service] would enhance student learning,” AP Human Geography teacher Melanie Vieira said. “The more students can connect content to their own life, the more likely the are to remember the content because it has been made meaningful to them.”
The AP Capstone, AP project Lead the Way and AP with WE Service program are relatively new compared to the traditional AP courses — which may explain why these programs are offered at only a few schools. The AP Capstone course is only offered at 11 high schools in California and 116 schools across the United States.
The AP Scholar Award is given to students who have had outstanding performance on multiple AP exams. The basic AP Scholar award is for students who receive scores of three or higher on three or more AP Exams, while the most prestigious National AP Scholar Award is
granted to students who score an average of four on all AP exams taken, and score four or higher on eight or more exams. At Bear Creek there are currently 27 students who have earned AP Scholar, 11 students who have earned AP Scholars with Honors, 11 students who have earned AP Scholar with distinction and one student, senior Adan Banks, has earned the AP Scholar with Distinction and the National AP Scholar award.
“To be honest I didn’t even hear about the award until I got an email,” National AP Scholar Adan Banks, a senior, said. “In my research about college applications I never saw anything about AP Scholar awards. The only thing I can do is list [the award] in my awards and achievements. I can’t even write anything about it, it’s not important.”
After the 2019-2020 school year AP will no longer award students AP Scholar Awards, due to increased pressure on students to take more and more tests. A user on Twitter posted a Tweet saying, “Thoughts on the national ap scholar award contributing to this pressure.” The user tagged Trevor Packer, the senior vice president of the AP Program, and Packer responded with “Exactly. That’s why we’re eliminating it.”
According to the College Board 54.2 percent of students only take one exam, while 0.00003 percent of students take eight or more exams, the number required to qualify for the National AP Scholar award. Although increased pressure on students may be a valid reason for the elimination of the award, most students interviewed said they did not even know about AP Scholar awards and only discovered its existence when they received an email after earning one.
“I only ever heard the name but I didn’t know exactly what it was,” AP Scholar Alanda Nguyen, a senior, said.
Students on Reddit have presented differing opinions on the value of the AP Scholar Awards. Some students say that they are redundant because the award just restates that the student passed AP exams.
“It’s something you can put on your transcripts; other than that [it] doesn’t seem to hold much value,” Nguyen said.
Other students that have been working towards State and National AP Scholar awards say they are frustrated their work will amount to nothing due to the removal of the awards. On a forum about the removal of AP Scholar Awards on Reddit a user by the name of CuzUAskedFurret said, “WAIT WHAT?! I have taken 17 AP tests and am shooting for State AP Scholar next year. This has been my goal for three years.”
The College Board has yet to confirm if they will be removing the entire AP Scholar program as a whole or if it will remove only specific awards within the program.