Sophomores no longer allowed to take AP Chem, double chemistry block introduced

Starting in the 2018-19 school year, sophomores will no longer be allowed to take Advanced Placement Chemistry as a full-year course and will instead choose from College Prep Chemistry, Honors Chemistry or a double chemistry block of Honors Chemistry first semester and AP Chemistry second semester.
According to Principal Rob Coppo, the idea of adding Honors Chemistry was proposed this year by the science department.
“It had been floating around a little bit in previous years, but [the Honors Chemistry class] really got talked about seriously this year,” Coppo said. 
California, along with other states, has adopted the Next Generation Science Standards in order to create a national science curriculum, according to CP Chemistry and AP Chemistry teacher Angela Willden. 
Since the schools in the SDUHSD plan to adjust curriculum to NGSS standards as well, the school board will make the CP Chemistry course a graduation requirement, whereas AP Chemistry alone will no longer meet the requirements because it lacks an Earth and Science component required by the new NGS standards.
“[The full transition will] probably happen in 2020 or 2021 with the current freshman class. As part of that, we’re piloting the Honors Chemistry course and the NGSS-aligned, regular Chemistry class,” TPHS Science Department Chair Brian Bodas said. 
The main difference between the CP Chemistry class and the Honors Chemistry class is the difficulty of math involved. The planned Honors Chemistry class will be slightly more difficult and have more math compared to the CP  class, according to Willden.
The idea of a double block chemistry class came from La Costa Canyon High School, which has been offering block classes for a couple of years. 
“We discussed it as a department and took it to the district office and said, ‘Could we run something similar to what LCC has been doing?’” Willden said. “We didn’t want Torrey Pines High School to be the only campus in the district where you couldn’t access AP Chemistry as a sophomore.”
This was a concern for Kevin Song (9) when he discovered that sophomores could no longer take AP Chemistry.
“For students who want to get ahead, the new system isn’t as good because we’re required to take an extra year,” Song said. “Putting an extra year before letting us [take AP Chemistry] just holds us back even more.”
The new chemistry block also has the potential to stress out students, according to Willden. 
“You have to decide, ‘Is this valuable enough to me to sacrifice a fun elective that de-stresses me, to take something that’s going to stress me more?’” Willden said. “It’s okay to choose not to take double block chem and it’s okay to choose to take it, but you have to be wise in your other course selections.”
Despite the fact that students need to take Chemistry everyday for 100 minutes, Willden believes that the double block will “probably be less stressful than [directly] trying to take AP Chemistry” without previous exposure to chemistry.
“The first four months of sophomore year are very, very stressful on AP Chemistry students,” Willden said. “I think that’s going to be alleviated … and [students are] going to be well prepared for AP Chemistry.”
Students who are interested but did not sign up for the block chemistry class can request a change with their counselors.
“We will look at the list of students who have signed up for Honors Chem, and then send them a pass and ask them if they’re signing up for the year-long Honors Chemistry class or if they are interested in doing the accelerated block instead,” counselor Chanelle Lary said.
Although some students would like to start sophomore year with AP Chemistry, the transition is for the wellness of students, according to Coppo. 
“As I’ve said a thousand times, I want to build people, not transcripts,” Coppo said.

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