The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

School Should Offer Normal Versions of AP Classes

As competitiveness in high school increases, students often feel obligated to take on numerous advanced placement (AP) courses offered by the school in hopes of amassing a high weighted GPA and getting into a prestigious college. While the school’s open enrollment policies for classes ensures that students have a variety of AP classes to choose from, it is important to realize that the actual motive behind taking a class is not to construct an immense résumé for colleges but to learn in a feasible way for the student. The school has recently added a college prepatory version of the AP Statistics class and it would be wise for the school to follow suit for several other classes that are only available as AP classes.

AP Environmental Science, AP Computer Science and AP Art History are just a few of several AP courses offered at the school that do not currently have regular versions available to students.  In offering college prepatory versions of these classes, the ultimate question comes down to whether it is better for a student to not take a course at all or to take the college prepatory version of the class. The clear answer is the latter option as a student may want to learn about computers or art history but simply cannot afford to accommodate for the workload that an AP class brings into his or her particular schedule.

In terms of employing a teacher, adding one regular class period would cost approximately $30,000 to $40,000 per class period over the course of a year. A new set of textbooks and class materials would also have to be purchased. This, however, is not a large sum to make sure that students are enrolled in classes that are the right fit for them.

“[The regular Statistics class] is designed for juniors and seniors who have finished Algebra II successfully,” math teacher Carol Evans said. “It is not for someone going into electrical engineering or astronomy, but [rather] it is designed as an alternative to trigonometry or non-AP calculus. Everybody should want to take some statistics. You children will have to take it, guaranteed. It’s like learning to read. You don’t know it, you’re hosed. You’re going to be a citizen, you’re going to vote, but if you don’t know what the numbers mean, you’re hosed.”

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When an AP version of a class is offered and the college prepatory version is not, many students who have already piled their plates high miss out on the valuable opportunity to gain additional knowledge in the more low key environment of a regular class. Thus, the school should look into expanding its range of academic rigor by adding regular versions of AP courses.

“One reason [to add regular versions] is that a lot of people who take AP Statistics or Computer Science can’t handle that initial abrupt advance to the class, and they’d rather take a regular one and later do an AP version,” math and computer science teacher  Michael Richardson said.

There is a distinct possibility that the AP Computer Science course will be following suit of the AP Statistics course. Although finalities are yet to be cemented, a college prepatory computer science class may be available to students next year. The AP version of the class was just added as a choice a year ago, and while it is great to have an advanced version of the class available, those interested in a less rigorous computer science education will not have to turn to out-of-school options.

“More people would definitely take computer science if there was a non-AP version,” senior Kyle Evans said. “Think about it. We live in the Silicon Valley, so obviously knowing your way around computers is a pretty good skill to have. I feel that if we were to offer both advanced and [college prepatory] versions of classes to more people, it would create a larger pool of classes for people to pick from, and they’ll be encouraged to take classes they might not have otherwise considered.”

College prepatory environmental science and art history  courses should be considered next. College prepatory versions of these classes would give students more options to create a balanced schedule, while still allowing students to pursue areas where they may have particular passion.

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