Problems with Schreiber’s AP and Honors Curriculum

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Hand completing a multiple choice exam. The answer form was created by me and is not copyrighted.

Susanna Keiserman, Staff Writer

Every year, more than 500 Schreiber students take AP-level classes in preparation for college.  These courses provide an opportunity for students to take more challenging courses and increase their chances of being accepted into prestigious colleges.  Compared to Manhasset High School’s 19 offered AP classes, and Roslyn High School’s 20,  Schreiber’s 25 AP classes may appear exemplary.  However, there are no AP level classes available to freshmen, and only Advanced Placement courses in European History, World History, and Computer Science are open to sophomores.  This means that many students feel pressured to cram in as many APs as they can in their junior and senior years, yet they ultimately may not be able to take as many as their counterparts in other school districts.  

“I feel that Schreiber should open up more APs to younger students who want the challenge and don’t feel challenged by their suggested courses.  Also, I know that next year I’m going to have a much busier schedule and it’ll be more difficult for me to devote large portions of time to a lot of classes so it would’ve been nice to take some of those higher level classes now,” said sophomore Avery Masia.   

The timeline for students taking AP classes is not the only problem; some students find their schedules crammed as a result of needing to take multiple classes in one subject, even if one of them is already an AP.  For example, a junior taking AP English Language and Composition Writing Workshop, which meets twice in the six-day cycle, also has to take another English class that meets four times per cycle.  While students have the opportunity to complete the English Honors Project for honors credit in their normal English class, a four-day AP English class could be more beneficial than two unrelated classes which, when combined, fill six periods per cycle.  

“Junior year is already incredibly stressful and it just seems unnecessary to be taking another normal level English class.  It makes sense that we need to take English four times out of the six-day cycle, but I don’t see any reason why AP Lang couldn’t be extended, or if that doesn’t work, why there couldn’t be another two-day English class for us to take,” said junior Mikayla Schwartz.

Although some may argue that underclassmen should not be encouraged to take high-stress classes and AP tests, the consolidation of AP classes in junior and senior year adds stress onto the most significant, demanding years of high school.  

“Music has been a main focus throughout my whole life and taking music theory always sparked my interest,” said senior Anna Scott.  “I could only take AP Music Theory my junior year, though, and instead of taking the class as an underclassman, I had to wait and tackle the rigors of that class in an already challenging school year, while also studying for the SATs and ACTs.”

Additionally, the number of honors classes that students must take prior to taking an AP course varies from subject to subject.  Students who take AP science classes in their junior year, such as AP Physics or AP Chemistry, have most likely already taken Earth Science, Honors Biology, and Honors Chemistry, but those who take AP European History (widely recognized to be one of the more difficult AP courses) or AP World History sophomore year are not given the opportunity to take any honors social studies classes before then.  While freshmen may participate in the Social Studies Honors Project and receive honors credit for Global I, reading a few extra books and writing some essays is not necessarily the same preparation that a full-year honors course could offer.  

“I’m very interested in the idea of taking an AP English class at some point,” said freshman Tiffany Martinez.  “But unlike in math and science, there’s no class that could serve as useful preparation.  The honors project is great in that it positively affects your GPA, but it just isn’t as helpful as an actual honors English class would be.”

Besides academic motivation and genuine interest in a subject, another compelling reason for many students to take AP classes is college applications.  In today’s competitive academic climate, many students are constantly looking for ways to boost their applications and prove to admissions officers they are worthy of being accepted into their dream school.  One way high schoolers may do that is by collecting accolades such as AP scholar awards, which require students to earn a minimum score on a particular number of AP exams.  For example, to earn the AP Scholar with Distinction award, students must receive an average score of at least 3.5 on previously taken AP Exams and a minimum score of 3 on at least five AP exams.  While it is possible to take five AP classes in junior and senior year at Schreiber and earn the coinciding AP Scholar with Distinction award, this goal would be much more attainable if students could get a head start.

Simply opening more AP classes to freshmen and sophomores would decrease the stress of Schreiber upperclassmen, while giving underclassmen opportunities to challenge themselves.