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School’s initiative to increase student enrollment in AP classes is successful

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Many students are questioning whether advanced placement (AP) classes are worth the stress and workload that they entail. AP classes increase one’s chances of getting into the school of one’s choice and provide the opportunity to earn college credit before the end of high school. Because of these benefits, administration has focused on encouraging all students to enroll in AP courses.

This year, the school has put a focus on ensuring that AP classes reflect the demographics of the school. In previous years, there has been no concentrated effort in encouraging students to take AP classes, leading to the underrepresentation of minority groups in these courses. Principal Colleen Weiner was clear on the school’s intent, saying, “Our AP classes for this year, 18-19, will reflect the diversity of our school, and we’re excited.”

Teachers seem to be excited as well. William Seibert, the AP US History teacher, responded to the change with enthusiasm. “I’m glad to see a more representative sample of the school in my classes. It betters the discussion, and [creates] a better class. I look forward to this year . . . I think everyone is capable of doing good work and improving . . . as long as people are willing to work hard and others are willing to encourage each other, I think [integrating classes] will help our community and make us a stronger and better school.”

With the increased number of students enrolled in AP courses, administration recognized that it would be imperative to create a support system for students. They implemented several support opportunities so students taking AP classes could feel comfortable and stable. Krista Bianchini and Ann Buchanan have taken up this task. All of the AP students were invited to an AP workshop at the beginning of this year, where they discussed topics such as stress management and note-taking. An academic resource center was created for students who need extra help with their assignments or a place to go to deal with pressure and stress.

Students completed a survey last year that helped administration to evaluate what students were taking AP classes and how to get a wider demographic to enroll. The survey helped administration to gain an understanding of students’ needs and aided them in deciding how to push the enrollment of AP classes. Through providing more resources and aid to students enrolled in AP classes, administration has made it easier on students who are taking challenging classes.

Enrollment in AP classes has also grown this year due to increased numbers of slots for AP courses such as AP US History and AP Statistics. This increased availability was part of the push for higher enrollment in AP courses. The decreased numbers of double blocks for some science classes freed up slots for additional sections of other classes that don’t require double blocks.

Also notably, it is the first year the guidance department has offered AP classes to sophomores rather than having them join by request, contributing to further growth.

Ralph D’Amato, head guidance counselor, said, “It was marketed this year for the first time since I’ve been here in 12 years, where AP was available for ninth graders’ schedules and for the upcoming sophomore year this past winter and spring. Historically, this was not a viable option.”

However, though administration is happy about the increase in students taking AP courses, some students are dissatisfied. Many upperclassmen are frustrated with sophomores taking AP classes.

Chelsea Hughes, a senior, said, “They’re taking up our classes. We’re seniors, we should be taking the AP classes.”

However, Jack Higgins, also a senior, put himself in the shoes of an underclassman. “If I had the opportunity to take AP classes as a sophomore, that would have been great.”

These mixed reactions were brought to D’Amato’s attention. He replied, “Our computer program gives an edge to seniors, then juniors, then sophomores. It’s called a priority . . . however, there are many variables, and so if something fits in a student’s schedule more freely, they’re absolutely right, a sophomore may get that course, where a junior or a senior may not.”

Teachers say they are pleased with the increase of sophomore students. Matthew Cohen, an AP Statistics teacher said, “I love the underclassmen and sophomores who are taking [AP Stats] . . . they’re motivated, they’re driven, there are more kids that care and try. ”

William Seibert had a similar opinion, “I have been pushing to have sophomores to be included for several years, and I’m glad to see that’s [happening].”

Administration’s push for larger enrollment in advanced placement courses was effective, as students taking AP classes are more representative of the school’s population and a larger portion of the school is enrolled in these challenging courses.

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School’s initiative to increase student enrollment in AP classes is successful