Photo by Rebecca Kanfer '21
The bell rings. Students stuff their pencils and papers back into their bags. Anxious looks are shot towards the teacher collecting the tests. The class exits as murmurs about the exam stream down the hallway. Stress and anxiety build as students await their grade.
This experience is common among students taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Staples High School offers 19 AP courses ranging from language classes to science classes. Classes are open to all students in Staples with either a teacher recommendation or a simple signature on an override form. But in January of 2020, Greens Farms Academy (GFA), a private school in Westport, announced their removal of Advanced Placement classes for the school year of 2020-2021.
Because Staples offers these classes, students think it is imperative to take these challenging, college-level classes. Staples guidance counselor Kimberly Curran explained how the accessibility and availability of AP classes affect students.
“For some kids, AP classes are appropriate, [its] important for kids to challenge themselves, but for other kids, they think they should take these AP classes just because we have them […] but they aren’t ready,” Curran said.
Currently, when students are deciding between classes, they mainly focus on the rigor of the class and its appeal on a transcript rather than choosing a class that might be more engaging for them.
According to the Washington Post, “Colleges and universities want the most capable and hard-working students. Therefore, [there is] belief that failing to take an AP course may hurt their college prospects.”
With the elimination of AP courses at GFA, students have the opportunity to take classes based on their passions, and, ultimately, excel in those classes. There is now a decreased amount of pressure for GFA high schoolers to enroll in a course for the sole purpose that it may be attractive on a transcript.
“I think it’s a big de-stressor, not giving kids at GFA the option of taking an AP class,” Steph Wistreich, a GFA student, said. “It definitely lowers pressure and competition in the school community.”