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Eight High Schools in D.C. Area to Drop AP Courses

These Washington area private schools say they will stop offering AP courses.

Brandon Walker

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Earlier today, eight elite high schools in the Washington D.C. area said that they will not offer Advanced Placement courses anymore, reports Inside Higher Ed.

The private schools said in a collaborative statement that they are trying to better prepare students for college by including more appealing courses to students instead of training them for the year end AP tests. As a response, they said they plan to develop their own unique advanced classes “that more effectively address [their] students’ needs and interests.”

“Collectively, we believe a curriculum oriented toward collaborative, experiential, and interdisciplinary learning will not only better prepare our students for college and their professional futures, but also result in more engaging programs for both students and faculty,” the joint statement said. “We expect this approach will appeal to students’ innate curiosity, increase their motivation, and fuel their love of learning.”

The AP courses are expected to be dropped by 2022. According to Inside Higher Ed, the high schools making this change are Georgetown Day, Holton-Arms, Landon, Maret, National Cathedral, Potomac, St. Albans and Sidwell Friends.

“If educators at public high schools share the concerns of the Washington private schools, some are likely to note that they lack the resources to create the kinds of advanced courses that private schools can offer,” Inside Higher Ed said. “Others at public high schools have said that the AP framework, whatever its flaws, encourages high schools to provide demanding courses for top students.”

Regardless of the academic level of competition in high schools, students are taking AP courses now more than ever according to Inside Higher Ed. In the high school Class of 2017, a record high of 1.17 million students took at least one AP course.

One of the perks of AP courses, educators emphasize, is that they can help students finish college early. In D.C. area private schools, however, few students actually do. The high schools argue that colleges focus on the rigor of classes in the admission process, and not particularly AP courses.

“We have been assured by admissions officers that this change will have no adverse impact on our students,” the statement said. “The real question for colleges is not whether applicants have taken AP courses, but whether they have availed themselves of their high schools’ most demanding classes.”

That, and the AP test requirements make it difficult for faculty to teach the subject matter that is “more intellectually transformative and rewarding,” the schools claim.

The schools hope to offer more enriching alternatives and courses that provide the “authentic engagement” to better prepare students for college. As high schools continue to adapt towards a college education, this is one of many solutions for some private schools.

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Brandon Walker is a junior finance major at Temple University. He is a committed writer and jazz pianist. Brandon has written for The Temple News and is interested in a career in business and communications. He can be reached at brandon.walker@temple.edu.

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