Freshmen take readiness test for Chemistry Honors

April 3, 2013 — by Nick Chow
Dozens of students piled into chemistry teacher Kathy Nakamatsu’s room on Feb. 8, eager to get the chemistry test over with. Two pages of questions later, the students filed out of the room. But here’s the catch: these students were freshmen.
Dozens of students piled into chemistry teacher Kathy Nakamatsu’s room on Feb. 8, eager to get the chemistry test over with. Two pages of questions later, the students filed out of the room. But here’s the catch: these students were freshmen.
Approximately 300 freshmen took the Honors Chemistry Readiness Assessment Profile, or HCRAP (as coined by science teacher Kelly Nicholson), in its second year of being administered.
There is no minimum score that must be scored to sign up for Chemistry Honors, but the purpose of the test, according to science department head and teacher Jenny Garcia, is to help students make the right decision when choosing their chemistry class.
“We decided to institute [the test] because there were too many students dropping from Chemistry Honors to college prep chemistry after the year started,” Garcia said. “This wreaks  havoc on the scheduling of all classes and leaves some students unable to move into college prep chemistry, so they have to wait a year to take chemistry.”
The test, unlike last year, is now mandatory. Although there is no minimum score, students receive a “grade” of one, two or three with three being the highest.
The readiness test gauges material that the incoming sophomores should have a basic mastery of to be successful for Chemistry Honors such as basic graph analysis and calculations.
“It involved a lot of graph reading and solving for things like density,” freshman Kelly Xiao said. “It was mostly general science. There was also some basic math, somewhere in the easy Algebra II level.”
Initially, there were rumors that the test would include subject material that the freshmen had never been exposed to, but that proved to be untrue.
“This test was designed to tell you whether you were ready or not for [Chemistry] Honors,” Xiao said. “However, it’s really just simple problems from 8th grade science and math — again, nothing remotely difficult, in my opinion.”
Ultimately, Xiao believes that the test was not a very good representation of the difficulty of the Chemistry Honors course.
“My opinion is that the test isn’t particularly necessary,” Xiao said. “The freshman have already gotten the message that Chemistry Honors is an extremely hard course.”