Pioneer staff and students take the Equal Opportunity School survey


The Equal Opportunity Schools survey, a mandatory questionnaire for all Pioneer staff and students, is aimed at collecting information about the Advanced Placement program.

On Tuesday, Jan 25, students and staff of Pioneer took the Equal Opportunity Schools survey, a questionnaire aimed at providing clarity about Advanced Placement classes so the district can figure out how to make those classes more diverse.

The survey, which was allotted 45 minutes, was created by a company called Equal Opportunity Schools. Their mission, according to, is to “ensure that students of color and low-income students have equitable access to America’s most academically intense high school programs and succeed at the highest levels.”

But as every student and staff member was taking the survey, confusion arose when an announcement informed seniors that they need not take it at all. 

Pioneer Principal Tracey Lowder was disappointed by this. Though Equal Opportunity Schools made it clear that the survey was optional for seniors, he believed that valuable insight would be gained by senior participation. 

“Seniors weren’t required to take (the survey),” he said. “I wanted them all to take it, because I wanted to get the seniors’ input on how they felt about AP. When you look at it, most of our AP courses are taken by seniors.”

Despite Lowder’s wishes, most seniors did not take the survey. Pioneer senior Carey Wang knew of the valuable information she could have provided, but she did not believe that she was actually supposed to take it.

“I think having the seniors’ inputs would be beneficial for sure,” she said. “Seniors, having gone through basically all of high school already, might provide a different perspective that other grades couldn’t.”

But with very little participation from seniors, it was down to the other three grades to provide useful student feedback regarding AP classes. 

Most Pioneer students have the option to take their first AP class in sophomore year, beginning with AP U.S. History, and many more options become available to juniors. However for freshmen, most of whom have never taken an AP class, the survey was somewhat meaningless.

Valentina Carcassi, a Pioneer freshman, took the survey, as was mandated, but does not take any AP classes through Pioneer. “I feel like some of the survey wasn’t exactly applicable to me as a freshman,” she said. 

Even though Carcassi and other freshmen did not find the survey to be of value, their input is exactly what the survey was trying to collect. 

“A freshman would take the survey because some of the questions in the survey are based on if (a freshman) would or wouldn’t take an AP class, and if so, what would entice (them) to take an AP class. And if (freshmen) are against it, why are they against it?” said Lowder. 

He made it clear that the goal of the survey for freshmen is to understand their preliminary thoughts on the AP program, and to correct any misunderstandings early on. 

Meanwhile, the survey was not limited to student input. Teachers who took the survey were asked about their thoughts on AP courses and whether or not they would want to teach an AP class in the future. 

“Every teacher in my building should be able to teach an upper-level class,” said Lowder. “Every teacher in my building should be able to teach a lower-level class, and they should also be able to teach everywhere in between.”

Teachers had a very different survey from students, with questions revolving around whether or not they’d previously taught an AP class, if they liked the AP program, and if they had any interest in teaching an AP class in the future.

Lowder also wanted this data to ensure that no teacher was forced to teach something that they didn’t want to teach. “I don’t want to assign something to someone that they don’t want. But by that same token, if I have someone who wants (to teach an AP class), but has never been assigned it, I need to make sure that they’ve got an opportunity,” he said. 

It’s evidently a difficult act, trying to balance teachers who can and want to teach AP classes, with those who can’t or don’t want to. It’s made all the more difficult since some AP classes are only taught by one teacher, which would be a dire problem if a student who wants to take such a class chooses not to because of a “goofy personality conflict,” said Lowder. 

That’s part of why students and staff took the EOS survey. Lowder and all of the Pioneer administration want to make AP classes more accessible and enjoyable for every person in the building, and that survey collected important information, with the notable exception of seniors’ input. 

“I…have plans to take AP classes in the future. I’m looking forward to being able to go deeper into the topics I’m interested in in class while receiving college credit,” said Carcassi.