My children have been reading The Giver this summer, and the focus on precision of language got me thinking this morning. So often, it seems these days, we read or learn about programs or products whose reality differs greatly from what was described. It’s the supplements that claim to help you control your appetite, that in reality do absolutely nothing.
The College Board is the entity that governs Advanced Placement, or AP, courses. It articulates the standards those courses must meet, provides or endorses training to certify teachers for AP courses, and administers and grades the AP exams. Students who take a certain number of exams and achieve scores of a certain level are eligible for awards from the College Board. These awards are called AP Scholar Awards, and they are an internationally recognized award of achievement that students can attain.
What does this have to do with precision of language, or lack thereof?
It’s because of the AP Scholars program that PWCS offers.
The AP Scholars program is available to PWCS High School students taking at least 2 Pre-AP or AP courses in the current school year who plan to complete at least 6 AP courses before graduation. Students participating in the program must maintain a C average in all classes, must complete community service hours each year, and must complete a research paper. In exchange for doing all of that, students participating in the program are supposed to receive peer tutoring, instructional support from the school counseling department, free on-line SAT prep and practice AP exams, and special recognition at graduation.
The AP Scholars program, offered by PWCS, is in no way, shape, or form affiliated with or endorsed by the College Board, the organization that administers the AP exams and awards the AP Scholar awards. Students who complete the AP Scholars program in a PWCS school aren’t AP Scholars unless they take the required number of courses and achieve the scores required for an AP Scholar award. In fact, students who don’t participate in the AP Scholars program can achieve the AP Scholar distinction, if they take enough AP classes and achieve the necessary scores to receive the award.
See how that might be confusing?
This shouldn’t be construed as criticism of the AP Scholars program, as it sounds like an interesting program, though some parents have indicated to me that the promised benefits of additional instructional support and peer tutoring have not been delivered. My criticism isn’t with the AP Scholars program, but rather with the name.
No Colleges and Universities are aware of the AP Scholars program that PWCS offers, but they are aware of the AP Scholar distinctions the College Board awards. Students who complete the AP Scholars program in a PWCS high school aren’t AP Scholars; they are only AP Scholars if they earn that distinction and are awarded it by the College Board.
I’m quite certain PWCS officials were ware of the AP Scholar awards when they designed the AP Scholars program here, so why they would have chosen to give the program the same name as the award, is beyond me. It’s confusing, implies that some level of support or endorsement has been received from the College Board, and ought to be changed.