Why NDP needs more AP classes

Why NDP needs more AP classes

By Kylie Best

NDP currently offers students 15 Advanced Placement classes, and this low number compared to other schools is detrimental to our students who want to attend highly selective colleges.

Current AP courses here include English Literature and Composition, English Language and Composition, U.S. History, World History, French, Spanish, U.S. Government, Comparative Government, Biology, Physics and Environmental Science.

However, rival schools like Desert Mountain High School offer upwards of 30 AP classes, including Art, Chemistry and Music Theory. This sets NDP students at a disadvantage in the college application process in that highly selective colleges are more likely to admit the student who has taken 14 AP classes throughout high school than the student who has only taken four.

Here at NDP, the administration prides itself as offering a college preparatory curriculum, and yet this year cut an AP course, which could have translated into college credit for students, the summer before the class was supposed to be taught.

AP European History had its inaugural year at NDP during the 2013-2014 school year. It was offered again this year for students to sign up for, but the class was cut a month before the beginning of the school year due to insufficient student interest. This trend of not enough interest has contributed to the lack of AP classes at NDP, according to administration.

As a member of the AP Euro class of eight students last year, I enjoyed the class. The small number of students made it necessary for each student to participate and actively be engaged in the curriculum. The teacher, Carl Hess, was so passionate about the subject and seemed to truly enjoy teaching us about the Renaissance up until the fall of the Soviet Union and the effects thereof.

When I heard that AP Euro was cut this year, I was somewhat bothered. That class helped me to find my interest in the subject, so much so that I am planning to major in European history in college. Without the AP Euro class, I would not have found what I want to study for the next four years of my life.

“The AP Euro course, and AP social studies classes in general, can absolutely be beneficial to students,” Hess said. “In addition to fostering the growth of important reading, writing and critical thinking skills. The course exposes students to foreign cultures and histories. There is great value in stepping into a world you don’t know all that well and seeking to understand it.  You should come out the other side a little wiser about your own life.”

This issue of classes that students are interested in but, for whatever reason, are not offered at NDP, extends beyond social studies. Students are also interested in AP Chemistry, AP Statistics and AP Psychology.

Sure, NDP is a small school. As an institution, it cannot support 30 AP classes. Granted, there is a concern regarding money. It would be feasible to take an AP class through the Jesuit Virtual Learning Academy, the online learning program that the Phoenix Diocese uses. However, information would be more meaningful if taught in person, not to mention practice AP tests, practice essays and personal one-on-one feedback in person.

In a poll of 30 students, 15 said they would  take AP Psychology, 14 said they would take AP Chemistry and nine said they would want to take AP European History.

Charles Nguyen, the Chemistry Honors teacher who is qualified to teach AP Chemistry, said, “I think it would help them prepare for general chemistry in university and organic chemistry, or even upper level chemistry.”

Most highly selective colleges recommend taking at least two AP classes if the student is able to in order to demonstrate academic achievement. This pits students at NDP, who only have 15 options, against students in schools like the Governor’s Academy in Massachusetts that offer 40+ AP classes. NDP is, therefore, in direct competition with other schools for college admission.

As an AP student, I want more AP classes offered at NDP. It would allow students to branch out and study what they truly enjoy and make students’ college applications more competitive for highly selective colleges. NDP needs to allow for more AP classes, regardless of class size.