California to Rid AP Course Extra Credit

ByABC News
August 9, 2002, 6:50 PM

Aug. 30 -- Recent high school graduate Erica Goncalves may be one of the last California students to be rewarded with extra points for completing demanding advanced placement courses.

California education officials are recommending eliminating the grade boost for these courses. The move is designed to create a level playing field for all students by giving students who take the college-level courses the same credits as a regular high school course.

"It should be impossible for any student to obtain any higher than a 4.0," said Charles Ratliff, senior consultant for California's Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education. Some California students now can get grade point averages of up to 4.5 by taking advanced placement courses, making them more attractive to universities.

Ratliff said the weighted grade system is unfair for those students whose schools do not offer enough advanced placement courses. These students cannot possibly attain higher than a 4.0 even if they ace every course, he said.

'The Scores Are Essential'

School administrators and students who have taken advanced placement courses are infuriated by the recommendation.

"I think the scores are essential because I did a lot of work, and I want to get credit for it," said Goncalves, 18, who took four advanced placement courses at Gateway Charter High School in San Francisco. She said she thought taking the courses would both prepare her for college and make her a more competitive applicant.

"I think the raising of the grade should stay because it's harder workit's a college level class," said Amy Thorp, 18, who also took four advanced placement courses at Gateway Charter High.

Bill Murray, a principal at Amador High School in Sutter Creek, Calif., said he thought the move was "a mistake and counterproductive" to efforts to raise education standards. "These kids, like all humans, like to see a reward for high achievement. They are competitors, and competition is a wonderful motivator," Murray said.