The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 2, 2001


Should CCHS offer more AP courses?

A panel discussion on the need to expand advanced placement offerings at the high school was held at the monthly meeting of the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) on October 23. After presentations by CCHS department chairs, and a review of the guidance department's report, "Research on the Impact of AP Courses on College Admissions," no significant changes in the school's curriculum were suggested.

AP and college admissions

The term "Advanced Placement," or "AP," designates those courses which meet specific curriculum guidelines that reflect the advanced college-level work required in the course. By implication, students who have taken an AP course are prepared to take the AP exam administered in that subject by the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB). Students can and do take the CEEB AP exams without having taken designated AP courses. At most colleges and universities, a passing score on an AP exam qualifies a student for either advanced placement, course credit or course exemption. College admissions offices therefore tend to view AP courses as the most rigorous courses a high school can offer.

CCHS offers fewer AP classes than other area high schools. Currently, math and science are the only departments which offer them. Chairs of the English, foreign language and social studies departments made presentations explaining why they currently do not offer AP classes. Nonetheless, according to the guidance department report, CCHS maintains a solid reputation for academic rigor, and an excellent track record for college placement despite its relative lack of AP offerings. The guidance department has long-standing relationships with many colleges and maintains a school profile packet with detailed course descriptions and school statistics which is sent out with every college application.

CCHS has strong reputation

The discussion led by the faculty suggested that more AP classes may not necessarily improve a school's reputation. College admissions officers are aware that there is no means to certify that a course labeled AP is actually offering the AP curriculum. According to the Guidance Department survey, "80 percent [of admissions staff] indicated some moderate measure of concern for the integrity of a course which is identified as AP." A large majority of colleges surveyed indicated that a high school's overall reputation for academic rigor, regardless of number of AP courses, is key to assessing a college applicant.

College admissions anxiety

Over the past three years an average of 116 students have taken CEEB AP exams, with over 80 percent scoring at the highest levels, 4 and 5. However, fewer than 20 percent of the students have taken AP exams in subject areas where CCHS does not offer AP courses.

Despite the reassuring survey responses and thoughtful presentation by CCHS faculty and staff, the increasing competitiveness of college admissions and the accompanying stress for applicants and their parents will continue to fuel anxiety. The issue of AP courses at CCHS will most likely be revisited.

Those looking to obtain a copy of the current CCHS profile packet may contact the CCHS Guidance Department.

2001 The Carlisle Mosquito