Neah Bois is a high school sophomore at Waterford School and one of Better UTAH’s student bloggers this summer. She’ll be posting regularly about how policies affect her as a young Utahn. This is her first blog post.
AP tests, The Education System and the Unknown Student
I recently got the opportunity to take the AP European test this past week. It was a year’s worth of studying and cramming, but I feel very accomplished knowing I can list over 100 important dates in the history of Europe.
After I took the test I was vegging out on my computer and happened to read an article by The Huffington Post that said more than 60 percent of students with AP potential didn’t take the exam last year, even though their PSAT scores showed they could perform well on one. Overall, black, Latino and Native American students were less likely to take AP exams than their white and Asian peers.
Here in Utah where we have a large and growing hispanic community, it is concerning to see that many minorities are so underrepresented in taking AP tests. According to a study done by the College Board, the organization that administers AP tests, just 14.6 percent of the half million students who passed an AP exam in 2010 were Hispanic or Latino.
In Utah, where the hispanic community is growing every year (78% in just the last decade), the lack of Hispanic students taking the AP test is worrying. As we all know, Utah has one of the lowest-funded education systems in the country. AP classes are a way for students to be challenged and learn in an environment that suits them. AP classes are generally smaller than standard classes, which can have up to 50 students in some schools. Whereas in standard classes many students may feel unknown, an AP class demands your attention and dedication.
But even if everyone who is eligible took AP classes, this still wouldn’t solve our public education funding problem. Without proper legislation funding our public school systems, we are never going to get anywhere. We are not investing in our students like we need to be. If you cut off the money, you cut off the resources. And Utah already has a lack of resources. As a student who experienced the public school system, I know first hand how difficult that environment can be. But now, as a privileged private school student, I still see the importance of a robust, public education. It isn’t the teachers or the school, but the system that needs changing.
In the next legislative session, it is essential that education is addressed and changes are made. The way we are going now is embarrassing. It is embarrassing for students to walk into a public school class and have to sit on the floor because there are not enough seats. Is that how we want our students to feel? Embarrassed, sad, and humiliated? And the teachers, having to tell a student that they can’t have a seat, but not be able to say his name because there are so many others you have to remember? No. We want our students to feel empowered and successful, something that could be attained if we put money in the system instead of our roads. Is that too much to ask for?
Something needs to change. Not only do we need to make sure that kids who should take challenging classes are taking those classes, we need to make sure that the kids who don’t take AP classes are given the proper education that will ensure them a good future. I am not saying we need to make everyone who scores well on the PSAT take an AP test, but we need to make sure they know it is an option, regardless of their race.
I hope that in the future these changes will happen. Maybe if Utah legislators sat down on the floor and were addressed as ‘you’ things would change. Just maybe.