Students drop AP classes despite signed contracts

Every May, hundreds of students receive a sheet of paper in the mail, letting them know they have qualified to take an Honors or AP class next fall.
That sheet—the AP/Honors contract—is filled with dense blocks of text. But mixed into the jargon is an important clause. Unlike all other classes at Redwood, an AP/Honors class cannot be dropped once the semester begins.
“Part of the reason is logistics—we build the schedule based on student’s requests,” said counselor Lynn Kennedy. “We create a certain number of regular classes and certain number of APs, so if we have a lot of kids wanting to switch out, then we may not be able to accommodate them.”
But no matter how many contracts students sign, there will always be those who change their minds once school starts. Out of the students 722 students who are enrolled in AP/Honors in classes this year, 22 have appealed to drop one or of them.
According to Kennedy, students rethink their course load for a variety of reasons.
“The reasons I have seen this year are that they are really stressed out and overwhelmed,” Kennedy said. “They are spending a lot of time on this one class when they may be neglecting their other classes. It’s an unsustainable commitment.”
Kennedy also notes that grade pressure may factor into students’ decisions.
“Some students aren’t happy getting a B or lower,” she said.
Scheduling conflicts often play a role in students’ desires to leave advanced classes.
By the beginning of the school year, senior Jordan Sternberg was regretting his decision to take a seventh period. He attempted to switch his seventh, AP Environmental Science, to first period.
But after speaking to his counselor he found that his options were either to remain in his current 7th period class or drop APES all together. He choose to leave the class.
Junior Leah Cohen, however, was able to transfer classes. She switched from Honors Integrated Science to regular Integrated Science last year, due to various health problems.
“My sophomore year, I still hadn’t had diabetes for a full year and it was giving me a really rough time—my blood sugars were all over the place,” Cohen said. “That semester I was taking two honors classes and one AP, and I was just falling behind in everything.”
Cohen dropped the class after the first semester, during which she was dealing with a case of pneumonia.
“Although I knew I was going to be better second semester, I wouldn’t have pneumonia anymore, I was still so not willing to do another semester of hell,” Cohen said.
Cohen had little problem leaving the class from either her counselors or Principal Sondheim.
Those attempting trying appeal out of an Honors or AP, face a lengthy process.
“The process of dropping an AP/Honors generally begins with trip to your counselor, Kennedy said. “From there we will talk to the student, and possibly the teacher and we will need to notify the parents.”
Kennedy also noted that the final power lies with Prinicipal Sondheim, and that one must write a letter to him if one wishes to appeal out of a class.

Share this article: