The Absence of AP Courses
by Natalie Perlov on Friday, February 21st, 2014
Milton Academy is an unquestionably rigorous learning environment. We are encouraged to take thought-provoking courses, required to debate and discuss in and out of class, and expected to think with great depth. Yet, despite such high academic expectations, Milton has a scant offering of AP courses. Just this year, the math department eliminated their AP classes, and the popular Psychology AP course was transformed into “Psychology Seminar.” While the lack of AP courses allows teachers more flexibility in their curricula, students ought to be given the opportunity to pick between Milton-devised and AP curricula, thus allowing them to better shape their academic experience.
Milton’s decision to eliminate AP courses is driven by the faculty’s desire for flexibility. This year, the lack of AP courses provides an opening to teachers, as they can now formulate their own curricula. Instead of focusing on preparing for AP exams, teachers can delve into topics with students and increase student interest in the subject by digging into popular areas. This change potentially provides a higher platform of understanding for students.
Nevertheless, Milton’s lack of AP courses does a disservice to its students by not preparing them sufficiently for the college process and AP exams. When students begin the test-taking aspect of the college process, they may feel unprepared, as they have not had sufficient exposure to College Board examinations. APs can help make the standardized testing process easier and less daunting. An anonymous junior said, “I took the AP Latin test last year, and even though the test is different from the SATs, I feel more ready to prepare for standardized testing this year.”
In addition, when taking AP exams, students are at a disadvantage, having not prepared as specifically or thoroughly for the test as the students they are scaled against. The math department’s stance is especially confusing, as teachers often say that the honors courses prepare students for AP tests. However, the department has eliminated AP designations. It seems odd that Milton is going out of its way to avoid the College Board’s AP label.
Furthermore, AP tests are often used by colleges to test out of classes. Cornell University, for example, allows students to get out of the freshman writing class if they receive a 5 on the English APs. Milton students possess better writing skills than most students from other schools; yet, because we do not have the option to take an AP English class, we might have to undergo a class that we do not need and take up room in our limited college course loads.
In order to satisfy both students and faculty, Milton ought to offer both AP and honors courses. While these courses would be equally challenging, one would cover a broader range of material, as the AP examination requires, and one would go in greater depth in a selective group of topics. Students who want the benefits of APs will have the tools they need at their disposal, while others will be able to follow more flexible curricula.
Milton provides its students with so many wonderful opportunities. Why shouldn’t more AP courses be introduced to Milton to help supplement the different learning needs of each student?
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