McMillan impacts change to CAASPP schedules


Kathryn McMillan

Every year the juniors on campus take the CAASPP math and English test.
Testing right before the Advanced Placement (AP) exams can make Titans lose focus from crucial revision time in class.
This year those enrolled in the AP English Language and Composition (APEL) class, will be able to take the tests after AP testing due to the help of English Department Chairperson Kathryn McMillan.
A teacher at Poway High for 17 years, McMillan is currently teaching APEL, Ethnic Lit 1 and 2, the Speech and Debate 5.5 class after school, and has seen the toll this schedule has taken on the social science teachers last March. Especially AP US History teachers who had to deal with losing two weeks of pre-AP-exam teaching time.
“Usually those two weeks of prep can really solidify for students the entire scope of the AP exam — everything is just much more fresh to them, and it all comes together in a way that takes the whole year to get to,” McMillan said.
To prevent this from happening this year she wanted to schedule a way to support students who were spending a lot of money to be successful on the AP exam. With time after the AP test to make up for the CAASPP testing, she brought this to the attention of her colleagues and got it finalized by the PUSD Board of Education. The burden of the CAASPP testing also impacts both American Literature teachers and students, who haven’t yet covered the majority of the learning in anticipation of testing. Juniors like Keyli Salgado had to finish regular in-class assignments for American Literature out of school and had less time to study for the AP Spanish exam as a result.
“We usually get time in class to do our American Literature homework but since we had to do testing we had more assignments at home, the schedule should be farther away from the AP test,” Salgado said. Opting out of the test completely is also an option but McMillan points to the benefit these tests can provide. At the school-wide level testing ensures Poway High crosses the 95% threshold that allows students to have their scores reported alongside schools both in our district and outside. This can be more important as universities rely more on information from schools to know the quality and caliber of school a student comes from. McMillan reminds students to prioritize rest, nourishment, and destressing to get through the back-to-back testing.
“You are not your score. You are a whole person with other skills than performing on an exam. Don’t sweat it,” McMillan said.
Although this change has not been felt by all juniors yet, the rotation of the CAASPP testing yearly with the Social Science department will be a factor in spreading the impact to future teachers and students.