Reschedule Spring Break to Avoid Impacting AP Exams

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Dear Sparta Community,

As many of you know, there has been great concern over the placement of the Sparta School District 2018-2019 spring break, which is currently scheduled from April 29 through May 3, or the week before the national Advanced Placement (AP) exams. These exams, which allow high school students to earn credit for introductory college courses, are increasingly important for both college admissions and placement and require months of extensive studying.

Traditionally, the week before AP exams is a time of review and practice, one where students, including 25% of Sparta High Schoolers, rely on their teachers to guide them through the last sprint to the exam. Placing spring break the week before these exams forces students to forgo their scarce relaxation time in favor of study, and will cause increasing stress as students struggle without access to their teachers. Therefore, we urge the Board of Education to reschedule Spring Break, and leave the week before AP testing free for study and review.

Various arguments for the movement of Spring Break are presented below, in bulleted form.

  • Many students will be impeded in their studying if they are ripped away from the classroom; each AP test covers a large amount of difficult material, so it is ideal to have access to an expert (a teacher) when reviewing. 
  • Without a teacher physically present, students are forced to resort to inefficiently emailing their teachers with questions, which is simultaneously unfair to educators who will be overwhelmed with a deluge of questions from dozens of stressed students over spring break.
  • This scheduling unfairly rips away Spring Break from AP students and their families, who will be forced to prioritize study over their scarce vacation time (a burden not shared by students in standard, non-AP classes, therefore discouraging academic rigor). 
  • Cheaper vacations, which the BOE has argued as a benefit to the placement of the 2018 - 2019 Spring Break placement, are a poor consolation prize to families with stressed, overworked students, nonetheless dismissing the fact that AP exams allow students to save thousands of dollars by skipping introductory college classes. 
  • This scheduling is unique to Sparta, therefore impacting Sparta teachers with children in other districts, who will now face a scramble to procure babysitters to take care of them.
  • While it is true that spring break has proceeded other tests (NJ ASK, HSPA, GEPA, PARCC), these assessments do not hold the same urgency that AP exams do. AP exams are only administered ONCE per year and cannot be retaken, with thousands of dollars of college credit riding on them (never mind the cost of $94 per exam). To fulfill graduation requirements, there are many exams one can take, including scoring >450 on each section of the SAT or ≈16 on the ACT, which, according to SHS’ 2017 school profile, 93% of Spartans already pursue.
  • AP’s are, additionally, considered in the college admission process. No student wants to face the difficult decision of spending time with their family at the potential expense of college admissions.

With this in mind, we urge the Sparta community to sign this petition and join us in campaigning to reschedule spring break. If you wish to speak directly to the Board of Education, you can also join us and voice your concerns on Monday, May 21st at 7:30 PM at the Mohawk Avenue School Auditorium, 18 Mohawk Avenue, Sparta NJ for Sparta's monthly Board of Education Meeting.


      - Alexandra Poret & Audrey Biss
        Sparta's 2018 Valedictorian and Salutatorian

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