The Advanced Path

Why we need to keep adding AP courses


Abby Hernan, Opinions Editor

   During this school year, 60 high schools will be piloting a new class: AP African American Studies. According to the College Board website, AP African American Studies was added to teach the history, politics, culture and economics of North American people of African descent. 

   However, adding a new class to Trinity is not simple; it requires an evaluation of whether the class will add value to students and whether there is a practical way to implement the class into the curriculum.

   “There’s conversation within the department level first about how does this fit in with us? Do we need it? How would that work? Who would teach it?” Director of Learning and Instruction Stephanie Dryden said. “Then there’s a proposal that’s been made and it goes to the curriculum committee where we all talk about that and how does that add to our curriculum? What does it do for our students? How does it fit in with our mission?”

   Once the class has been selected, teachers, classrooms and materials must be designated for the course. While it is a rigorous process to get a course added, it is a small sacrifice for the many benefits that a diverse curriculum will bring to Trinity and its students.

   The most efficient way to help expand our curriculum on campus is through APs, which not only expand the course offerings but also give students the chance to challenge themselves. As a college preparatory school, it is important that our school offer courses to students that will prepare them for higher education. AP classes are made by high school teachers and college professors so that they are equivalent to a college course.  While a non-AP class is capable of adding this value, it will not be a standardized way that allows colleges to see a student’s capabilities.  

   “We are always as a school reflecting on our curriculum and doing that kind of self-evaluation and thinking,” Dryden said. “How do we challenge kids? What do we want a Trinity Prep graduate to look like? What are the things that they need to have to be successful in college but also in life? How do we help them develop into being good people as well as good students?”

   The College Board is steadily advancing its own course offerings. In addition to AP African American Studies, AP PreCalculus is also being piloted in schools in order to allow students who are not STEM-oriented a chance to get a strong math foundation before college. The College Board is also considering adding an AP Business course to be taken before AP Macroeconomics. 

   As the College Board continues to create valuable classes, our school must consider implementing them into our own curriculum in order to maintain a diverse course catalog.

   The rigor and variety of AP courses is important. However, the greatest benefit specifically about AP courses is their flexibility. Unlike IB programs which have a set course list and order, students can choose what AP courses they want to take based on their own academic strengths. This choice allows students to properly challenge themselves without having to overload on courses they lack interest in.

   However, AP courses are not fully flexible; there is still a set curriculum and exam that teachers must teach to. This has led some schools to get rid of APs and replace them with their own college-level courses. While this seems like a good solution, it is flawed. 

   The reason AP classes do not have an adjustable curriculum and exam is because they have to be standardized throughout classrooms in the U.S. This standardization shows colleges that a student is able to handle the rigor of a challenging course and deserves credit for that work. If a school were to make its own demanding course, no matter the difficulty of the class, a college would not be able to know what the class actually entailed.  

   AP courses are more than just homework, practice free-response questions and a three-hour exam. They are an opportunity to help a student not only learn college-level content but also how to develop a good work ethic to maintain a college schedule.

   “What’s important for college preparatory school is that there’s a way for students to challenge themselves and to develop those critical thinking skills, those research skills, and those writing skills that are essential to being successful in college and in life,” Dryden said. 

   While there are other ways to prepare students, APs have consistently been used because they are the most effective choice. Even though writing down essays in a blue book and quickly analyzing chemistry problems seems tedious, it is the first step in preparing for the journey ahead.

   The lead editorial expresses the opinion of the Trinity Voice editorial staff. Please send comments to [email protected]