Elite DC-area private schools drop Advanced Placement classes

WASHINGTON — Advanced Placement courses will soon be a thing of the past in eight D.C.-area independent high schools.

AP courses have long been considered the most rigorous a high school student could put on his or her schedule, but these schools say AP isn’t what it used to be.

Georgetown Day, Holton-Arms, Landon, Maret, National Cathedral, Potomac, St. Albans and Sidwell Friends announced a shared commitment to eliminate Advanced Placement courses from their curricula by 2022. Maret does not offer AP courses but supported the move.

“We have been assured by [college] admissions officers that this change will have no adverse impact on our students. The real question for colleges is not whether applicants have taken AP courses, but whether they have availed themselves of their high schools’ most demanding classes,” the heads of school said in a joint statement.

The heads of school for all eight independent schools have discussed the idea of moving away from Advanced Placement courses for years, said Melanie Sloan who represents the group.

“So many students believe they have to take AP course in order to get into college, whether or not that is the course that is the most interesting or relevant to that student,” Sloan said.

The move to push away from broad curriculum for college credit is something that independent schools in other parts of the country have already made, including schools in New York and Connecticut.

In response to the announcement, the College Board, which oversees AP, defended its courses and their success rate. It said students of the eight schools have earned 39,000 credit hours to the colleges where they sent their AP scores, which equates to nearly $59 million in tuition savings.

“At a time when the placement, credit and admission benefits of AP have never been greater, it’s surprising that these schools would choose to deny their students these advantages,” the board said in a statement.

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