Admin pushing AP?

Many think that the district is pushing AP classes more than other credit options.

Levi Gettleman, A&E Editor

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For some students, Advanced Placement (AP) courses are a wonderful way to take a more challenging course while also earning college credits in high school. However, this is in no way the only route to earning college credit and being intellectually stimulated at school.

In addition to AP courses, Bothell also offers College in the High School and Running Start dual enrollment courses, where students can take courses at Cascadia Community College or another university.

BHS Principal Mr. Juan Price explains that “In high school, it’s like a menu, you get to choose items from a menu so in this case … you can take Advanced Placement, you could do College in the High School for college level classes, and then there’s Running Start. I think the best thing is to educate students and that’s what we strive for— what are the different options and what are the consequences of those options.”

There a few fundamental differences between AP and CHS courses that need to be understood. First off, AP courses require the completion of the AP exam for credit, whereas a passing grade in a CHS course is sufficient.

Additionally, the community colleges that CHS courses are offered through put instructors through a rigorous qualification process and yearly observations, whereas AP teachers are expected to attend a summer training–once, although they may choose to continue to attend trainings.  

The curriculum also can differ between the AP and CHS courses. Ms. Tarilyn Greenfield, who teaches AP Calculus AB and CHS Calculus 151/152, notes that the curriculum requirements for her CHS course include more material than the AP Calculus AB exam. Ms. Deirdre Duffy, who teaches AP Literature and Composition and CHS English 111 explains that the curriculum for both courses are similar, but in her CHS course, she has more freedom to choose what to teach, providing a more all-encompassing course with a wide variety of short stories and poetry as well as drama and novels.

So, is admin pushing students into AP courses? For the most part, school-level administrators and counselors  understand the wide array of programs available for college credit. However, superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid and district officials have been part of a major, nationwide push to have more students in AP courses.

To understand why district seems to be pushing AP over other college credit options, it is important to understand that most school ratings websites and publications, including Great Schools and US News High School Ratings, use AP scores and the percentage of students enrolled in AP courses as a significant factor in the ratings. CHS courses and running start courses do not improve these ratings.
It is also important to understand that every student who takes a Running Start class takes their per student funding from the state away from Bothell, perhaps explaining why the administration seems to provide less support to running start students.

Ms. Greenfield explains that “While our school’s administration equally presents all options to earn college credit, district values AP courses more, and doesn’t understand the value of CHS courses.”

Ms. Jody Lineman, who teaches AP Language and Composition, explains that there is a problem with overfilling AP classes, saying that “It is a matter of transparency and integrity. Filling AP classes needs to be more than a PR move for the district.”

As a seemingly increasing amount of  students are being encouraged to take AP courses over other options, even students who aren’t prepared for the workload and rigor of AP, it is time to assure that the school administration, counselors, and district officials all understand and equally support students and their different options to earn college credit and challenge themselves.