Physics Department To Forgo ‘AP’ Designation

AP classes now face requirements for certification, prompting Phillips Academy to relabel some upper-level science courses. College Board, the administrator of the Advance Placement Exams, has begun enforcement of a new labeling policy. Over the summer, the Advanced Placement Board spent time reviewing approximately 130,000 syllabi due to this change in rules. Before the school year begins, teachers wanting to teach AP classes must now have their course plans approved. A positive result from the AP Board, allows the class to officially be labeled as “AP.” The Board has allowed some leniency, as teachers may submit course outlines up to three times until approved. The Physics Department has chosen to give up the AP label in order to keep the current curriculum. Physics 550 and 580, which were AP courses in the past, will no longer go by that title, although many students take the AP exam after completing these two courses. College Board currently offers AP exams in 37 different subjects ranging from “Art History” to “Calculus BC” to “World History,” many of which can be taken at Phillips Academy. Mrs. Kathleen Pryde, Department Head and Instructor in Physics, said that the department chose not to submit a course plan because the program right now is very strong. Students who take the AP examination consistently achieve higher than the passing score of a 3. She said that as long as the Physics program is successful there is no need for the syllabus to be revised just in order to receive AP status. In fact, students at Phillips Academy are frequently among the top scorers overall, according to an article from March 7, 2007, on the School’s website. Last year, the departments of Physics and Music theory were awarded for the outstanding overall scores received on the respective AP exams. Unlike the Physics department, the Chemistry Department decided to get the syllabus for Chemistry 550 approved for AP status. Department Head and Instructor in Chemistry, Mr. Cardozo said, “The Chemistry Department has not been affected by the new AP audit process at all. We simply submitted our current AP Chemistry 550 syllabus, and it was approved by the College Board, so we have now been cleared by the College Board to use AP in the title of Chem 550 in the Course of Study.” The Biology Department has for some time not labeled its higher-level courses as Advanced Placement; therefore this new policy has not changed the names of any of their courses.