School board to drop requirement for AP tests; students will still get weighted grades

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education on Tuesday night voted 3-2 to no longer require students in advanced placement classes to take expensive tests at the end of the semester, but the pupils will still receive weighted grades.

The $86 tests were paid for by the district during the current and last school years, at an annual cost of about $680,000, but the outlay fell victim to budget cuts for the 2010-11 school year.

Because it is illegal to make students pay for required programs or materials, the district had to drop the requirement of taking the test.

Students who pass the rigorous classes and the tests receive weighted credits, where a B in AP is the equivalent of an A in a regular course — which is why some pupils have grade point averages greater than 4.0.

Board members disagreed on how the college admissions administrators will view their policy.

“A weighted grade can make all the difference in whether you get into UCSD or not,” board President Richard Barrera said.

However, board member John De Beck said he’s learned that college admissions staffers are starting to look at weighted grades as being akin to “grade inflation.”

De Beck and Katherine Nakamura — who said the tests were necessary but the district should pay for them — cast the dissenting votes. Shelia Jackson sided with them originally but later changed her vote to pass the board’s resolution.

The school board has been making numerous cuts to reduce a projected $86 million deficit for next year.

The move brings the district in line with most districts in San Diego County in not requiring AP examinations.