Education beyond APs

At PHS, it often feels like intelligence is measured by the number of AP classes students take. But this “highly-accurate” indicator of intelligence may be phased out in the near future, for “Advanced Topics” classes.

Currently, there are passionate debates between students, teachers, parents, and administrators. Is eliminating AP courses is truly in the best interests of students? Will this look bad when I apply to colleges? If I want to take AP exams, do I just have to study myself? How will “Advanced Topics” courses create any less pressure than AP courses?

While the AT classes are a step in the right direction, they fail to resolve the fundamental problems of AP classes. AP classes at PHS try to drill in material solely for a test in May within eight months, although the material is designed for a ten-month period of learning. Absorbing such a concentrated amount of information within a short period of time results in uncompromising workloads and deadlines.

The implementation of AT courses does not mean that PHS students will suddenly lose all desire to take AP exams. Many PHS students believe that getting good scores on their AP tests will help them when applying to colleges—therefore, getting rid of AP courses is clearly not in the best interest of students. Having no in-class time to review for AP exams, and being forced to self-study for the tests will only result in more pressure and stress, since students will be on their own.

An alternate solution would be to have the school year be from August to May, instead of September to June. That would give students and teachers and extra month before the AP exam, so more time to stretch out the material. This also answers the question, What do we do after the AP exam? In most AP classes, the period of time from post-AP exam to the end of the year is marked by zero learning, zero work. So why not just have an extra month of learning, and end the year soon after AP exams, which often serves as a final exam for most courses?

If AP classes were to be eliminated, the school could provide tutors and study sessions run by teachers well-versed in the class. This would aid those students that would be forced to self-study extensively due to no longer having specific AP exam preparation in class.

Advanced Topics” may not be any different for students—in fact, they may induce even more stress, since students will have to self-study for AP exams. PHS must realize that cutting AP classes isn’t the solution to the high stress and high pressure that students face; there are better ways to solve those problems. And if PHS does decide to eliminate the AP curriculum, it must take other measures to ensure that the decision is truly in the best interests of students.

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