Picking Up the Pieces of AP Physics

By Laxmi Menon

The past few years have seen a rise in experimentation on the part of the school board when it comes to scheduling, technology and the educational options available to students. These changes have allowed the district to visibly improve with many successful implementations, such as a steadily growing range of optional courses and iPad usage. However, some changes have also left their marks on the students on whom they were tested out. One such major example is the removal of advanced physics for incoming juniors during the 2019-2020 school year.

At the time, the district made the decision to notify all juniors that if they were interested in taking physics, they had to choose either regular or AP Physics. This resulted in AP classes containing both seniors who had already taken advanced physics as well as inexperienced juniors who had never even seen a physics textbook.

Many higher-achieving students felt the pressure to choose AP from both parents and the school; the only other option was made to seem much less challenging than their typical advanced course loads. However, the newcomers promptly recognized the rigor of the course, and many were still denied the option to switch to regular physics after requests to drop surged within the first month.

Artwork by Sabeena Ramdarie, @jammin_with_jelly

Students who did not take a Regents Physics course found the AP Physics 1 curriculum to be very confusing and challenging.

“When it came down to it, the toughest part was the lack of foundation. It does make sense that as we navigate courses in college, we need to be prepared to absorb and learn new concepts that are unfamiliar. Sudden change is difficult to tackle for any individual, but the results of this change were so widespread that it was completely scrapped for the current school year,” said senior Gauri Shyamnath.

Students' opinions regarding the AP Physics trial has prompted the district to return to the original physics curriculum. This year, juniors only have the option to take regular physics.

“AP Physics has many concepts that are hard to comprehend all at once so not being able to go to advanced wasn’t the best situation for me to be in. It caused me stress since it was difficult and it was the course I was doing the worst in,” said senior Kelly Huerta.

The immense drop in grades for typically strong students paired with the stress of an unprecedented workload soon became evident to the school board and only one AP Physics class is running this year.

*This article has been updated since it was last published.