BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ -- Ridge High School intends to offer the Advanced Placement Chinese exam in the spring of 2021, the Bernards Township Board of Education indicated Monday night, Nov. 11.

Some parents speaking at recent meetings have pressed the district to host the exam. They contend the exam may help students’ prospects for college admission and possible credit and/or advanced placement in courses.

Most four-year colleges and universities in the United States grant some benefits for exam high scorers, says the College Board AP website.

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Grades are assessed from 1 (no recommendation) to 3 (qualified) to 6 (extremely well qualified). The College Board website says research indicates that students who score a 3 or higher “typically experience greater academic success in college and are more likely to earn a college degree than non-AP students.”

Bernards Township will look into giving the exam as a pilot only for seniors in the spring of 2020, if possible, but it may be too late to organize or even enroll without a late fee, said Kristin Fox, the assistant superintendent for curriculum.  The AP’s Chinese Language and Culture exam is scheduled for Monday, May 11.    

“We are working on figuring out the logistics and technical requirements, we are in process of collecting that information right now from AP College Board,” said Superintendent Nick Markarian in an email. “We don’t have the information yet, (but) perhaps by the next BOE meeting.”

The district doesn’t intend to open the test site to students from other schools, said board member Karen Gray.

Ridge High and the district does not offer Chinese in its curriculum, but many students take Chinese lessons privately and speak in at home. The school district’s annual survey of student interest in languages was distributed this week and that may give an indication of potential enrollment in a school course.

The AP Chinese Language and Culture course in Mandarin Chinese emphasizes communication (understanding and being understood by others) by applying interpersonal, interpretive and presentational skills in real-life situations, says the AP website. This includes vocabulary usage, language control, communication strategies and cultural awareness.

There are no prerequisite courses to taking the AP Chinese exam; however, students are typically in their fourth year of high school-level study in Mandarin Chinese, says the AP website.

The exam is about two hours long and includes 70 multiple-choice questions and four free-response questions, according to the website. Students are asked, for instance, to write an email and a story interpreting a picture sequence, speak to an interlocutor to answer questions and speak in Chinese on a specific topic, as if he or she is making an oral presentation to a Chinese class.

Students can take other tests to show proficiency in Chinese to colleges, said board member Suzanne Skalski Schaefer, who works in the college admissions field.