Inside AP Psychology’s scheduling problems

Samantha Homcy, Editior-in-Chief

Advanced placement (AP) classes are some of the most rigorous courses Milton offers, and they are extremely popular amongst students of all grade levels. At the end of the school year, all AP students take exams and, if they pass (earn a 3, 4, or 5 out of 5), are eligible to earn college credits at several colleges. Milton currently offers thirty AP classes, both in core subjects like history, science, math and language arts and more specific ones in foreign languages, art and music. This year, an additional course, AP Capstone, was introduced. Enrollment in AP classes is rising nationwide, especially at large schools with several APs like Milton.  

However, this year, there was more interest than the administration accounted for in a few AP classes, specifically in AP Psychology. “There are between 35 and 40 kids in my AP Psych class,” says Kiran Kullar, a junior. “They have to move extra desks into the room, and there’s a chair [without a desk] one person can sit in.” When Kullar tried to change her AP Psychology class to another period, she was told that if she was taken out of her current class she might have to drop the course. Every single AP Psychology class is filled to capacity, which allows for little wiggle room.

What changed? “Last year we had seven sections of AP Psych taught by three different teachers,” says Lisa Silverman, an AP Psychology teacher. “ Last spring, after the course verifications came back, we only had enough students signed up for three sections.” Silverman is not sure why this happened but she says it may relate to the larger offering of social studies electives this year. At the beginning of this year, so many students wanted to enroll in AP Psychology that a fourth section was created.

“The scheduling of a course is based off of the students’ requests back in the spring” says Hillary Reiner, a counselor at Milton. “That’s how they decide how many sections of the classes they need and how many teachers are available to teach the classes.” This was part of the problem with AP Psych. “For AP Psych, there were only a certain amount of kids who requested the course in the spring and that’s how many classes they make for the fall”, says Reiner. “If people change their minds or decide [that] this school year, they want the class, then unfortunately, there might not be room,”  

What does this mean for the future of AP enrollment at Milton? “Going forward, I think it’s all about how many teachers we have that can teach the class and how many students request it,” says Reiner. Silverman claims that the problems are not as drastic as they may seem. “The changes really haven’t affected me,” she says. “I had packed classes last year, so having packed classes this year is no different. However, since the new section has been added, Mrs. Alfano can still teach AP Psychology with me, which helps with [planning].”

As AP enrollment soars, the school is working to ensure that everyone who wants to take these advanced classes has the opportunity to do so.