School replaces AP curriculum with “Advanced Classes”

Juliette Propp, Staff Writer

Starting in the fall of next year, the school is substituting all Advanced Placement (AP) classes with Advanced level courses designed to help students engage deeply with course content without being tethered to pre-designed curriculums. The change was announced in an email from Academic Dean Will Hopkins in late February.  

“We wanted to try and have opportunities for students at the top of each discipline that are not just about covering a lot of information, but are about thinking deeply, and going into depth in the courses,” Hopkins said. “In order to accomplish this, we needed to move beyond AP courses to a different style of advanced courses.”

The Advanced classes that will be offered next year are listed along with the rest of the school’s course offerings in the Course Catalog. The most advanced course offerings in each department are marked now as “Advanced.”

Hopkins said that Advanced courses will be more aligned with Friends Seminary’s values as a Quaker school, allowing teachers to cater their classes toward improving skills in inquiry, creating connections across disciplines, making community contributions, and giving students the chance to personalize their learning experience.

“We are very excited for the new advanced courses because they are not only going to be intellectually challenging and inspiring but they will also be aligned with what it means to be a student at a Quaker school in the most advanced class in that subject area,” Hopkins said.

With time for deeper thinking and learning, Hopkins said Advanced courses will provide opportunities that the AP courses do not. “There will also be opportunities for various types of culminating work in addition to exams, such as research projects, portfolios, and long-form writing,” Hopkins said.

The Advanced Placement tests that AP classes prepare students for will continue to be offered to those who wish to take them, and in most cases, there will be significant overlap between the AP and Advanced curriculums. “The new advanced courses have a lot of overlap with the AP courses,” Hopkins said. “At the beginning of each course, teachers will inform students of the overlap between the course and the exam, and students will be responsible for any information not covered in the curriculum.” 

As colleges have increasingly stopped offering course credit based on AP Scores and deemphasized test scores in their admissions processes, Hopkins said that abandoning the AP curriculum will not disadvantage students applying to colleges. “There are many excellent secondary schools that do not offer AP courses,” Hopkins said in his email. “By and large, colleges will look at whether a student has availed themselves of the most advanced opportunities their high school has to offer. Our Advanced course offerings will be a clear indication of aptitude and accomplishment in that subject area for our students.”

Hopkins said that teachers are looking forward to this new change at school. “Our teachers are excited about how relevant the classes and the learning are going to be, and they can’t wait to share that with their students.”