AP progress raises concerns among students and faculty


Lisa Yao

AP classes now have less time to review materials as the new schedule implemented in 2019 and WinterMission take away “face time” between students and teachers.

Ellie Yang, Editor-in-Chief

Each year, Masters students, predominantly juniors and seniors, take AP classes which lead up to the nationwide AP test administered by the College Board. However, in recent years students and teachers have been worried about the progress of AP courses after the new schedule implemented in 2019 gave classes longer periods but fewer overall meeting times. This year, with the addition of WinterMission, the learning time for AP was cut short once again.

Senior Stella Simonds, who is currently enrolled in three AP courses, has felt this time crunch of APs from a student perspective. She said, “I feel like we are definitely covering all of the content, but I feel that we are two weeks away from the AP exam and we haven’t even started reviewing in two of my APs.” This sentiment is shared by many Masters students as the exams are near and some courses are still moving into new materials.

This trend of rushed AP courses and little review time started a few years ago when the current schedule was implemented to replace the old one. Michele Dennis, teacher of AP Calculus AB who has been teaching AP courses at Masters for 15 years, said, “I like the new schedule, but the problem is that some weeks we meet two times and some weeks we meet three times.” This is especially problematic in math courses because, according to Dennis, “in math, you can’t cover more than one major concept a day, so the reduction in the number of classes has taken its toll on coverage of content.” 

The slower progress of AP courses is mainly reflected on the limited time teachers now have to review materials. Dennis said, “Before [this new schedule] I would have about three weeks of review in preparation for the AP exam, and then the schedule changed and I ended up with two, and then WinterMission came along and I ended up with one week, which is not really enough.”

Miriam Emery, upper school English teacher, echoed Dennis’ sentiments, “while it’s great to have some extra time to work with students, it’s very difficult to get in the amount of content we used to get in, whether it’s an Ap class or just my ninth grade class.”

Colleen Roche, upper school history teacher of the AP U.S. History course has had to cut down on materials to fit the paste of the current schedule. She said, “We’ve had to chip away the additional things we used to offer, like having students read short stories, read poetry, or look at art.”

This year, with the added time away from school work which resulted from WinterMission, the teachers have felt an even heavier burden to push their courses across the finish line for the APs. “I liked WinterMission, I thought it was valuable, but I don’t think we can do a proper job on APs and take the time for both,” Dennis said. 

Though the former schedule might give APs more time, it also contained downsides. Students attended all classes on Mondays and Fridays, while Tuesday through Thursday was filled with 110 minute long double blocks. Emery said, “I think it is easier for the students now in terms of homework, because students had homework for every class for Mondays and Fridays.”

For example, this schedule gave us more time with our advisees, which people wanted. But if you’re going to have more time doing this, you’re not gonna have as much time doing that. So there’s always that tension, and it’s hard to strike the right balance.

— Colleen Roche

However, Roche said that it is hard to balance the pros and cons, as there are many merits and downsides to both the former and current schedule. “For example, this schedule gave us more time with our advisees, which people wanted. But if you’re going to have more time doing this, you’re not gonna have as much time doing that. So there’s always that tension, and it’s hard to strike the right balance.”

A possible solution to this issue which has been in discussion for many years is replacing AP courses. Matthew Ives, head of the history department, said, “There are a lot of possibilities out there, It wouldn’t surprise me if in the next five years, we move to something different, maybe in some departments and not others, or if we got rid of certain AP’s or even added other ones.” However, Ives said that as of the coming school year, no decisions have been made.

Though there is not a solution to this slowdown in AP progress on the table aside from teachers’ individual adjustments, and the potential move away from AP courses altogether, students taking the courses have expressed concern. Simonds said, “I know that the Juniors are definitely concerned, and I personally am a bit concerned too”