AP classes provide challenging learning environment

At Nantucket High School, students have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement coursework and exams. Advanced Placement is a program run by the College Board (the makers of the SAT) that allows you to take courses which can earn you college credit and/or qualify you for more advanced classes when you begin college. They are designed to give you the experience of an intro-level college class while you’re still in high school. Plus, you can get college credit for the class if you pass the AP exam. It’s also becoming much more common here for students to take multiple AP classes over the course of their high school careers.

This year, 9 AP courses were offered to students who wanted to challenge themselves.  At the end of the 2013-2014 school year NHS received the MASS Math & Science initiative (NMSI) grant, which support NHS’ AP program. This grant allowed NHS to add Physics, Environmental science and statistics to the AP course curriculum. In addition to these three courses NHS also offers AP options in, calculus, biology, chemistry, English language, English literature, AP Seminar, AP Research, and United States History. This wide variety allows students to delve more into subjects they already enjoy.

The AP exams are graded on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being extremely well qualified, 4 well qualified, 3 qualified, 2 possibly qualified and 1 no recommendation. Student scores are weighted as a combination of multiple choice and free response section, the final score is reported according to the 1-5 scale. The AP exam pass rate at Nantucket High is 61%.

One of the more difficult courses offered is AP Calculus taught by Jedediyah Williams. He reports that last year had record breaking results and that “this year will be 100% 5s so that the record will never be broken again, because you can’t beat perfection.”

The most widely taken AP course last year was AP Language and Composition taught by Stacey Edzwald. Last year for AP Lang 40 kids took the exam and 26, or 65%, received a qualifying score of 3 or higher.  This is pretty consistent with the results from the last few years. “AP Lang is one of the most beneficial AP courses for students to take, regardless of their exam score. Although it is designed to mirror a freshman composition class, it really prepares you for the kind of reading, writing, and thinking you will need to do in all of your college classes.  So, even if a student doesn’t receive a qualifying score as a junior, they are more qualified for college-level work when they get to college,” said Edzwald. This year, 38 students in total are taking the class(spread over 2 sections).

AP Capstone is a diploma program from the College Board. It’s based on two year long AP courses: AP Seminar and AP Research. Rather than teaching subject-specific content, these courses develop students’ skills in research, analysis, evidence-based arguments, collaboration, writing, and presenting. Students who complete the two-year program can earn one of two different AP Capstone awards, which are valued by colleges across the United States and around the world. This course is taught by Page Martineau and reported that the “overall scores were solid.” There were two 5s, which was quite an achievement because only 7.9% of AP Seminar students scored a 5 last year. Last year’s AP Seminar was a small group and only two students have moved on to take AP Research this year. With the opportunity to take AP classes, students have a chance to arrive at college better prepared and be challenged.


By Jacqueline McGrath

Contributing Writer

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