The Student News Site of Saratoga High School

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

AP Physics to be replaced with Physics Honors

For the next school year, the College Board has mandated that all schools make AP Physics B a two-year course with two separate AP tests in order to cover material slowly and in a more in-depth way. The first year will largely consist of mechanics and rotational dynamics, and the second year will focus on electricity and magnetism.
To work around these new requirements, the school has proposed that a new course, Physics Honors, be created instead of adopting the two-year Advanced Placement program. The district board voted on and approved the proposal on Feb. 4, but the change is still being discussed. 
AP Physics teacher Kirk Davis said the reason for the suggestion was the department’s worry that fewer students would be willing to take a two-year course.
“Our concern was to make it available for as many students still as possible,” Davis said. “So we felt that if we went to a two-year program, we would lose maybe not some top-notch engineering students, but some others who are taking it just because they want to get exposed to physics and because it’s an AP, and then move on.”
Davis said that Physics Honors would be similar to the school’s current AP Physics B class, making necessary adjustments to cover all of the College Board’s material for both years such as adding rotational mechanics and RC consonant circuits. He added that all Physics Honors students will be prepared to take both AP exams at the end of one year.
Although the class will no longer be called “AP” because it does not comply with the College Board standards for use of the trademarked name, Davis said that it will still be highly challenging.
“It very well may deter people from taking it as it’s not AP,” Davis said, “but if you understand that the content is no different and as a matter of fact is going to be more rigorous because it’s going to be done in one year rather than two; at the end of the day, what do you want: AP on your transcript or AP credit?”
While deliberating over the school’s proposal to the board regarding the new physics class, Davis said they considered offering AP Physics C, which is calculus based, at Saratoga, but decided not to because of the prerequisites necessary to take it.
“We felt that if we teach the C based curriculum at Saratoga, it would have to be a second-year course and we want to teach both mechanics and [electricity and magnetism in one year],” Davis said. “And even then you [wouldn’t] get a complete physics education because you [won’t] learn about thermodynamics, fluids or waves.”
Other high schools, such as Monta Vista and Palo Alto, that offer Physics C only manage to get 35 to 40 students to enroll, and both have about 800 more students than Saratoga. As a result, Davis said he was concerned not enough people would be interested. In addition, he said a three-tiered physics program may also create unnecessary complications, such as “more kids taking honors than should be.”
Taking all these factors into consideration, Davis concluded that the Physics Honors alternative is the best way to approach the issue.
“I think in our heart of hearts, we really feel this is the best thing, even though it’s not an AP. I think it is the best education for the kids,” Davis said. “Then that way, we know you have been exposed to the full gamut of physics, and you will take engineering physics that is calculus based in college and you will be better off.”
 
Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Saratoga Falcon Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *