Kent Moves Away from APs

Emily Yuan, Campus Reporter

Excited for the Advanced Studies program at Kent? Since the establishment of the AP curriculum, Kent teachers have been teaching in accordance with the AP syllabus. This year, however, Kent has decided to begin its movement away from the AP and to execute our own Advanced Studies courses. 

According to Ms. Memoli, who works in the studies office and was the AP coordinator a few years ago, in order to be a certified AP teacher, teachers would need the approval of their syllabus from the college board. As the AP coordinator, she makes sure that all teachers’ syllabi are renewed every year. After the first indicator, she sends a roster to the department heads, who confirm the number of students taking a particular AP exam with every teacher to help Ms. Memoli decide the number of exams to order. The AP coordinator is also responsible for separating students based on college board accommodations, such as having extended time. 

Over the years, the College Board has made significant changes in its program. Initially, only teachers had AP preparatory books that they would use to help students. A few years ago, AP classroom made AP Daily videos and practice problems directly available to students. Becoming an integral part of the classroom, AP Daily videos are now used by teachers.  According to the College Board website, in courses such as AP Physics II, many classrooms have only covered 25% of the course content by January during the pandemic. To help teachers catch up, the College Board released lesson plans for the spring of 2021 in which teachers assign AP daily videos as homework to increase the pace of the class. 

Kent has also made adjustments in response to changes by the College Board. In 2015, the AP Physics B exam split into the AP Physics I and AP Physics II exams. Ensuring that students still learn the material in one year, Kent decided to offer accelerated physics, which covers the AP Physics B curriculum, instead of presenting physics I and physics II separately. However, the course couldn’t be called AP because AP courses couldn’t be taught for only half a year, Ms. Memoli explained. Like accelerated physics, many other courses at Kent do not contain “AP” in their title but prepare students well for the AP exam. As students are aware, Kent does not offer AP English Language, yet nearly all students in Honors English III take that AP exam. Different from mathematics, English is more subjective and gives instructors more freedom while still preparing students for standardized testing. The hope is that, without restrictions on the AP syllabus, Kent teachers can delve deeper into certain topics and offer the unique Kent school education experience. 

Several years ago, prestigious independent schools started moving away from the AP curriculum. Because the AP curriculum is restrictive in nature, instructors are not able to create a unique and challenging curriculum that is specific to the specialties of the teacher or fits with the focus and goals of the school. Wishing to tailor the curriculum to best prepare students for college, independent schools aim to provide students with rich and diverse education at the highest level, shared Ms. Memoli. Having had discussions on this topic before, Kent officially decided to move away from the AP curriculum in 2021 because we feel that it’s time to change and to reevaluate what’s happening in the classroom. 

For the 2021-2022 school year, students shouldn’t expect a huge change in the content of the Advanced Studies courses compared to that of AP courses. Advanced Courses will still prepare students for the AP exam, and prerequisites will remain the same. The year after that, however, students may anticipate holding more freedom in deeply exploring their passions.