Milton Phases Out Some AP Courses
by Rachael Allen on Friday, March 8th, 2013
As students rushed to get advice from each other, confer with their teachers, and decide on the appropriate course level before the course registration deadline on March 1st, another element weighed in on their decision: AP courses. Traditionally, Milton offers a host of AP classes in the Language, History, and Math Departments; however, this year a number of these classes have dropped their AP designations, a change whose benefit has been questioned by many.
In the Math Department, the four AP courses are now classified as “honors” or “accelerated.” Calculus (AP), Statistics (AP), and Math 6 Further Topics in Calculus (AP) are now all honors courses, while BC Calculus (AP) is now Calculus Accelerated. These title changes, however, do not necessarily imply a change in the course material.
A Math Department FAQ about these changes stated that the nature of these new courses revolves around “more time on applications and introducing some additional compelling project-based explorations.” No longer teaching to the strict free response and multiple-choice structure of the AP exam, these math classes’ potentials will expand, allowing students to explore topics more closely than they could with the AP restrictions.
As Math Department Chair, Ms. Sugrue, says, “We will now be able to be more creative and include some projects that allow students to delve more deeply into certain topics of interest since we won’t be tied to the test preparation and the specific AP curriculum.”
If students still wish to take one of the AP math exams, these honors and accelerated classes will prepare them for at least the majority of what will be on the test. While students may need to study a bit more outside class in preparation for the APs, the changes in math courses reflect neither a decrease in difficulty nor a study of more basic topics. According to the department, these modifications in classes will allow students to focus on deeper material, instead of a full-year test prep course.
Even though prepping for a four hour long test in May can be stressful, AP classes provide students the chance to add another standardized test to their college resume. Many students feel that Milton does not offer a wide enough selection of AP classes and that this decrease in AP classes next year will only worsen the problem. However, students can still take the AP exams without having taken an official AP class.
With AP tests ranging from language to math to English, students can get a prep book and study themselves, conferring with teachers when necessary. Furthermore, these specific changes in AP math and psychology classes will not greatly change the topics the courses cover, allowing students to be prepared for the AP regardless of the class designation. Ms. Sugrue feels that “many students who choose to take BC Calculus next year and beyond will still opt to take the AP exam, so the course will likely include test preparation in class.” Concerning the other three courses, she adds, “the Math Department will assist any students who are interested in taking the relevant AP.” Considering the fact that students’ AP readiness will not suffer, students’ responses to these changes lie more in confusion over the point of the course modifications. Daphne Chow (II) says, “I don’t really see the point of AP classes becoming honors. The teachers said they wanted more creativity in their classes, but math isn’t particularly creative.”
If they are still learning the same amount of material, students are led to wonder whether the dropping of the AP title will have any real effect on the class. Nevertheless, these students, among others, continue to sign up for psychology and math, taking advantage of what the school has to offer in courses, regardless of whether there is an “AP” next to the name or not.
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