Pivoting on College Credit Earning Course Offerings

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Stamford High Junior is selecting her courses for the upcoming school year.

Hannah Schager, Correspondent

Stamford High School has made the decision to eliminate several of its class courses starting in the 2021-2022 school year. This decision was made in order to increasingly incorporate International Baccalaureate (IB) classes, Early College Studies (ECS), and Early College Experience (ECE) classes into the school’s course offerings. 

The strategy centers around the elimination in the upcoming year of several Advanced Placement (AP) classes from the course catalog, in conjunction with offering other alternative courses that challenge and reward students (those being of the aforementioned categories). 

UConn ECE classes as well as IB-credit classes offer college-credits, similar to what an AP class potentially can, though with a slightly different curriculum. In an AP class, the potential college credit relies entirely on an exam costing $95 and administered by the College Board at the end of the second semester. Typically a score of three or above will earn you college credit for that class. An IB class on the other hand is 2 years long, with a series of exams and presentations that are scored in a similar way. A 1-5-point system is utilized and if an average of a 4 is received, credit is given. Whereas in the case of UConn ECE classes, they are graded in an entirely different manner. A letter grade of a C or higher for the complete course will automatically earn UConn college credits. The ECE course cost is a bit higher than the exam cost of an AP course.

These alternative course offerings have been welcomed by the Stamford Public Schools in the past, where schools such as Rippowam Middle School and Rogers International have strongly encouraged the IB program. Stamford High not long ago introduced the IB program into the school with it operating alongside the existing AP course selections. This upcoming school year there is a greater interest in encouraging students to participate in the IB program witnessed by the reduction of AP classes. 

Some of the courses that have been replaced include AP Psychology, scheduled to be replaced by IB Psychology. AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and AP U.S. History will be eliminated and students will have the opportunity to take either an ECE or IB alternative course for any of these. Lastly, AP English Literature 12 will now be offered as ECE English 12.

Kaitlyn Pepa, a junior at Stamford High, describes her experiences within the AP program to be “challenging, but it pushes me to prepare for college-level classes.” The AP program can be described as rewarding with its rigorous schedule and demanding assignments. However, a detracting element to them, and a cause for student concern and fear, is the fact that to receive college credits solely depends upon the score of the AP exam. 

Senior Emma Valerio expresses how her IB English course has allowed her to “go outside of the box in my English class, not only doing things like rhetorical analysis… but looking at films, music, and visual art as well.” While describing how important the final projects and examinations for her two-year IB course is, Emma remarks on how “they are really just different forms of the other exams, like AP ones.” She also comments on it being “stressful and super scary because you risk a large part of your IB grade and getting the credit when you’re taking the exams.” 

 This polarizing topic on whether or not to take IB, AP, ECE, and/or ECS courses can be frustrating. For parents and students alike, the debate on whether or not the increased chances of receiving college credit for ECE classes are worth the higher cost, or if abandoning the familiar, although unpopular, AP programs is the way to go is a challenging one. As the new school year introduces an influx of new but unfamiliar courses, along with the significant reduction in AP courses, the similarities and differences between the old and the new educational tactics will become more apparent.

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