Letter to the Editor

A Letter to the Editor in Response to “Ditch the A.P.’s” by Kerry Garfinkel.

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Raymond Chen is a sophomore at Stuyvesant.

Recently, Kerry Garfinkel wrote an Op-Ed in Issue 2 of Volume 112 titled “Ditch the A.P.’s.” Garfinkel tried to get readers to think critically about the College Board’s Advanced Placement (A.P.) program. This response is proof that he accomplished his aim, but I disagree with the conclusions drawn.

In the overarching conclusion, Garfinkel proposes that Stuyvesant abandon the A.P. in favor of a Stuyvesant honors system. But that change brings many complications. With a standardized system like the A.P., students across the country can be compared to a single metric. A Stuyvesant evaluation abandons this and offers no replacement. Colleges would be bombarded with disjointed metrics of academic success that could result in students being excluded from admission despite their abilities.

Among his reasons for abandoning the A.P., Garfinkel cites the inflexibility of the test and the strain upon the underclassmen. I will first address the inflexibility. For the A.P. to be a clear metric, it has to have a formulaic structure. Thus, it uses multiple-choice and imposes rigidity on written responses. Criticism of this indicts not just the A.P., but the notion of standardized testing for interpretive subjects as a whole. Those subjects have to be compromised to be observed clearly, and this is the source of frustration identified in the Op-Ed.

I will now address the terror of testing. To truly explain that, we must examine the format of testing. Students were given only one chance to succeed in this decisive moment for their academic fate. Even the most prepared individuals will be lying to say that stress completely eludes them.

Tests should inform rather than decide. They should be an accessory to academic success instead of its principal evaluator. Tests are the central source of frustration in the Op-Ed, and I agree that they are a problem, not just in the A.P., but in all interpretive subjects. They’re too compromised, unrepresentative, and stressful.

I agree with Garfinkel that the A.P. should eventually be abandoned, but it should wait until an alternative is administratively coherent. I would also extend that spirit of change to tests as a whole.

To borrow from Garfinkel, “Can we truly stand behind our […] own achievements? I say we can.”