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AP Classes At WHS Decline In Numbers

This is the Advanced Placemenet logo. Student interest has greatly declined in AP classes, with one of the main reasons being that Wadsworth High School offers a FlexPass opportunity, which allows them to leave school if they have a free period or a CCP study hall. Photo courtesy of fair use laws.
This is the Advanced Placemenet logo. Student interest has greatly declined in AP classes, with one of the main reasons being that Wadsworth High School offers a FlexPass opportunity, which allows them to leave school if they have a free period or a CCP study hall. Photo courtesy of fair use laws.

Advanced Placement, AP, classes have been on an overall decline in Wadsworth and surrounding areas. In Wadsworth alone, AP classes are being cut as students tend to gravitate more toward College Credit Plus, CCP, classes.
One of the main reasons that the interest in AP classes has declined is due to the option of FlexPasses in only the CCP route.
“I don’t think it’s any one thing [that is causing the fluctuation],” said Nate Singleton, AP English teacher at Wadsworth High School. “I think it is several things and I think the biggest culprit is FlexPass. I really think that FlexPass allows for students to come and go a little bit more as they please.”
The FlexPass allows students to leave during the school day if it is a day where they do not have CCP classes, it also gives them the opportunity to come to school late or leave school early.
“One allows for a flex opportunity and one does not and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out where a 16-year-old kid is going to go,” Singleton said.

In the 2023-2024 school year, the number of students in AP Language and Composition has severely dropped. Numbers are even lower for the 2024-2025 school year. Graphic by Larkin Tackett.

Following the typical college-class format, CCP classes only take place on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, which means that the student has a free period on Tuesdays and Thursdays when they would typically be in that class.
“I worry that next year will be the last year we have any AP English classes,” said Sarah Trausch, AP Literature and English teacher. “To me, that is not representative to what we want to be as a school.”
The English classes at Wadsworth High School are being hit fairly hard by the FlexPass option.
“I don’t see it as an AP versus CCP problem as much as a ‘traditional high school route’ versus a ‘flexed’ route,” Singleton said. “I think that’s the real culprit. I think the reason that it’s made manifest so abundantly in English is because we have these options. Math doesn’t have this option, science doesn’t have this option. So more than anything, that’s the problem – and I think we can call it a problem – because I think it is a problem or a question. Should we let these students do this or is it still too much too soon? Because I really think you could have an AP route or a CCP route where they stay here the whole time.”
AP Language has been removed entirely as a class for the 2024-2025 school year due to this decline in AP classes.
“I’m not going to hold my breath because we need to meet the students where they feel their needs need to be met and if they feel that the CCP route is the way to go, then that’s fair and that’s well and good,” Singleton said.
This is not only happening in Wadsworth, it is happening in surrounding areas such as Chippewa as well.
“In general, the number of students enrolling in our AP classes has greatly declined,” said Ken Gasser, the Mathematics Department Chair at Chippewa High School. “Our school does offer a wide assortment of CCP classes. More and more students are choosing to take CCP courses over AP classes.”
Fluctuating numbers in AP classes have caused the downfall of these courses.
“This year I have 11 [students], last year I had 44, the year before that I had 22,” Singleton said. “So it’s been up and down, up and down, but looking at it over the 12 years, it is continuing to go down.”
With AP courses, passing the AP test determines if students get credit for the class. However, in the CCP route, if students pass the class they will get college credit.
“CCP offers guaranteed credit if you pass the class and AP does not,” said Brianne Pernod, CCP English teacher at Wadsworth High School.
Students are deterred from taking AP because of the risks of not being able to get a three or higher on the final AP test. There is no test at the end of the CCP courses that determines if students pass.
“It’s really hard for AP to compete with CCP because there is no alternative benefit to it that you wouldn’t get in CCP courses,” Trausch said.
The cost of the AP test is also a factor in the decline. AP tests are typically around 100 dollars, with some costing even more than that. CCP classes are completely free, with the student only paying if they fail the class.
“I didn’t pick AP because the [college] credit would go directly to college instead of depending on the AP test, and so I wouldn’t have to pay for the AP test,” said Landry Macko, a sophomore at Wadsworth High.
The option of flexing out of school, having no AP test, and not having to pay for an extra test to pass are the main elements of the AP’s depreciation.
“I think in Wadsworth it will continue to potentially decline,” Singleton said. “I only say that because the majority of our students are staying in-state, so CCP is a really strong option.”
Singleton believes that if there was a CCP route with no option to leave school during the day, students might not gravitate so strongly toward CCP.
“What I would love to see happen is a CCP route without a flex alternative or option, to see if that funnels numbers in some different ways,” Singleton said. “I think that, really, we’re talking apples and oranges here, I mean it’s not a fair fight for AP.”
An issue that this poses is that students who are taking a CCP English class do not get to focus on literature.
“CCP, as we currently offer it, [has] no literature component,” Pernod said. “I’m not allowed to bring in anything that is fiction, I am only allowed to teach non-fiction for the composition track. So, what students think they need as opposed to what they actually need, they’re already missing a year of fiction, of quality fiction, and science shows that people who read fiction are often more empathetic which is something that our society and our culture severely needs. If we’re going to keep the CCP track, we need to be able to include fiction, courses that engage with fiction as well.”
Additionally, because taking CCP English Composition I and CCP English Composition II completes a student’s required English credits, they may go their entire senior year without taking English and almost two years without reading a piece of literature for school or maybe outside of school at all.
“For some kids, that [a sophomore-level text] will be the last piece of fiction that they read,” Pernod said.
While the number of students taking AP English classes is beginning to decline, the number of students taking CCP English classes is rapidly increasing. When Pernod first started teaching CCP Composition classes, she taught four classes with 18 to 20 students in them. Now, she teaches five classes a day that are almost packed with students, with around 24 to 28 students in one class.
“It’s a real shame that the gifted kids won’t have the opportunity to do that [AP courses], and I think that’s a disservice to them,” Trausch said.
With this shift in requirements and the increase in students taking the class, comes a change in the quality of student work.
“When I first started here, CCP was kind of sold to the best of the best,” Pernod said. “I think that’s kind of AP’s stance as well, but it was an upper-level placement course and now I see a lot of mediocrity in ability. It might have the honors weight but it doesn’t necessarily carry the same gravitas.”
CCP classes are college classes, typically very similar to how they are taught at The University of Akron or any university that the class is offered at.
“Additionally, the rigor of a CCP course is typically less than a comparable AP class which makes CCP courses more palatable to students,” Gasser said.
AP classes, although they provide college credit, are taught in a way that is more familiar to high schoolers and adapted to fit a high school class model.
“For a high school course, one of the biggest complaints I get, because they take a survey at the end of each semester about what worked for them and what didn’t, and a lot of them will say ‘Well, we don’t do enough worksheets,’” Pernod said. “Well, that’s not a college classroom. I can teach you a grammar rule and then we do a couple of exercises and then I don’t revisit that because if you want to retain that information, you practice that on your own, you review it on your own. I offer office hours for students to come in and practice but not many of them take advantage of that opportunity, so it’s a lot more self-motivation.”
With the continuation of more CCP classes that offer a FlexPass route, the number of students taking AP classes is expected to continue to decline although for some students AP may be a more fitting option than a College Credit Plus class.

 

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Alex Banks
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Larkin Tackett
Larkin Tackett, Staff Writer
Larkin Tackett is a sophomore and it is her first year on the Bruin staff. She is currently a staff writer but she wants to be an editor in the future. She took the Newspaper/Yearbook 1 class her freshman year and immediately knew that she wanted to be on the Bruin. Her favorite part of being on the Bruin staff is getting to hang out with fellow staff members and learning some new things about news and newspapers. The Bruin has taught her how to work under a deadline and get things done under an amount of stress. She has grown so much due to this class and wants to continue growing. She is looking forward to seeing the staff's growth in writing, layout, and collaboration from issue to issue and improving for the years going forward. She also looks forward to deepening relations within the staff and creating new ones with future staff members.
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