AP for none

Julia Weinrod

As Wilson makes several changes, including discarding this year’s late work policy and asynchronous Wednesdays, it’s time to consider removing Advanced Placement classes from our school curriculum.

AP classes don’t develop some of the most important skills you need in college: writing skills. Sure, AP history and language classes teach students how to churn out five paragraph essays in under an hour, but the ability to make things up on the fly gets less and less useful the older you get. In college and in life, you’re going to be expected to come up with long, thoughtful, meticulously researched papers. AP classes don’t prepare us to meet that expectation.

AP class curriculums are not custom-built for the interests and background of Wilson students. There’s a reason so many private schools in DC—including Maret, Sidwell, and St. Albans—have decided to phase out AP classes by 2022. 

Administrators at those schools cited a desire for classes with more depth over breadth and a desire for more complex curriculums. Wilson administrators are clearly aware of the cons of these classes as well, considering they removed the option to take AP World History last year.

These classes also often leave out minority students, whether it be because they feel unprepared or underrepresented.  By removing APs, we, as a school community, will more easily foster an inclusive learning environment where everyone can feel comfortable sharing.

The 4×4 schedule being continued through the 2021-22 school year provides extra reasons to drop the classes. The 4×4 schedule places a lot of pressure on both students and teachers. Finishing an entire curriculum in around five months is hard enough in an on-level class, let alone in an advanced class. More importantly, the semester schedule is a lose-lose scenario for AP students. Students in the first semester go months without reviewing content with a teacher before the exam. Students in the second semester have to race from February to May to finish content before the exam.

AP classes could be replaced with more comprehensive classes. In the AP classes I’ve taken there hasn’t been enough time for much nuance or depth in a lot of important subjects like U.S. History. In the rush to finish the curriculum before the exam, each topic was allotted 30 minutes to an hour of coverage at most. 

Instead, we should increase the caliber of regular placement classes so that every student has access to a stimulating and challenging curriculum, especially in core subjects. Honors for All was a start at this, but those classes must be made more challenging to allow every students to grow.

Advanced Placement classes are meant to give students a chance to try out college-level classes and even earn credit. However, the costs of keeping AP classes at Wilson far outweigh the benefits. •