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AP for freshmen?

tokenadulttokenadult Posts: 17,473Super Moderator Senior Member
edited July 2007 in Parents Forum
Hi, everyone,

I'm wondering what you hear locally about availability of AP courses for ninth graders, or about comparable hard courses for comparably young students through other channels. I get the impression that in some places it is not allowed at all for a freshman to take an AP course, or that at most only one course is allowed. A separate issue is how many ninth graders are well prepared by their middle school experiences for taking courses that are that hard, and I'd love to hear your comments about that as well. I'm trying to wrap my mind around what a typical ninth grade class schedule looks like, and what kind of homework and studying is expected of kids that age. I ask this in the context of colleges claiming, just about unanimously, that they look most carefully at what kind of courses applicants took in high school. What courses CAN college applicants take in the first year or two of high school?
Post edited by tokenadult on
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Replies to: AP for freshmen?

  • cathymeecathymee Posts: 2,384Registered User Senior Member
    I live in a suburban Long Island NY school district.9th graders here can start with the Euro History AP only.Both D and S took it...its extra work for sure. There's some controversy about starting with this one b/c of the breadth of the material.I don't think either kid was prepared from their middle school experience for the amount of work involved, and their results on the AP test (required to take in our district if you take the class) were ok,not great (3's).
    Both took more AP's in 10-12th grades(S took 6 more,D took 3 more) and did substantially better. Perhaps the Euro AP prepared them for the workload of the classes to follow?
  • MarianMarian Posts: 9,277Registered User Senior Member
    I think it's OK only if it's a full-year course that's intended to be the equivalent of a one-semester college course. At my daughter's school, top freshmen take AP American Government, which is the equivalent of a one-semester college course, and that works out OK. But I would not want to see ninth graders in an AP course that's intended to be the equivalent of a two-semester college course, such as AP U.S. History. In my opinion, few ninth graders are ready to work at the pace of such a course.

    Tenth grade is different. We have tenth graders who take AP U.S. History successfully.
  • originaloogoriginaloog Posts: 2,645Registered User Senior Member
    Our district does not normally allow frosh or sophs to take AP courses. They may petition to do so, but I am not aware of anyone in our son's class doing this. Honors class sessions are taught at a high level and sufficient to challenge the underclass students.

    There seem to be no repercussions come college admissions time either.
  • JHSJHS Posts: 13,783Registered User Senior Member
    1. At my kids' school, 9th graders generally cannot take AP classes. But they occasionally/regularly (like, once every few years) make an exception for a math prodigy who shows up in 9th grade ready for calculus. Other than that, I've never heard of anything -- certainly not the norm around here.

    2. Lots of colleges barely look at 9th grade, and the ones that do look probably discount it. I would think your average college admissions person, and human being, would be a little horrified at the implications of your question. Let's keep moving the start date for the insane pressure earlier! Why can't my preschooler take AP Psych, it's fluff anyway?

    3. I don't know that there is a "typical" 9th grade schedule and workload. There will be a lot of difference between Exeter and your average neighborhood high school.

    4. All that said, I had an extremely weird 9th grade. Part of it was a deal to see if the school I was at could keep me stimulated, part was to position me to go abroad for 10th grade, part was to handle scheduling conflicts. Anyway, I took: 9th grade (honors) English with my class; 9th grade (honors) math (Algebra II) as independent study, meeting with the teacher 15 minutes a day right after the normal class, and taking tests during the period right after the normal period; Biology (which was a 10th grade class then); Spanish 4 (with 11th and 12th graders, having skipped Spanish 2 and 3) (this was not the AP class, although it covered part of the AP curriculum); and an 11th-12th grade history elective on Modern Russian and Chinese History (roughly 1850-1966). I did fine, although I had a little work to learn to write a good, evidence-based history paper. This was a competitive private day school with about 100 students/class, grades 5-12. I was a smart boy; by the time I hit 9th grade I was generally acknowledged as one of the top students in the school, without regard to grade level.
  • Dean JDean J Posts: 3,786College Rep Senior Member
    Last year, I remember seeing one or two students who had APs in 9th grade. This year, I've seen a few more, but still less than 10 students.

    That being said, there's a school out there that labels every level of Spanish as "AP". One student's foreign language sequence looked like this:

    9th: AP Spanish I
    10th: AP Spanish II
    11th: AP Spanish III
    12th: AP Spanish IV

    Seems a bit out there, doesn't it? Some schools know what colleges want to see and might be throwing the AP label on for effect. Needless to say, I wasn't impressed with AP Elementary Spanish.
  • oldolddadoldolddad Posts: 571Registered User Member
    D took AP Bio and Stats in 9th and got 5's on both. She thought they were not bad at all. S took Chemistry and Calc in 8th (thought Chem was tough) , took Bio, both Physics C's and Stats in 9th. Courses such as Geography and Environmental Science are considered easier to do in 9th. Data shows that forieign language tests are taken in 9th too.
  • sjmom2329sjmom2329 Posts: 2,930Registered User Member
    My sons attend(ed) an all-male college prep in the Boston area, where 99% of the kids go on to a 4 year college. I mention this only to provide the context. There are up to 5 levels per academic subject from college prep 2 for those who may struggle with a subject to AP. However, freshman and sophomores are not allowed to take APs, although some may accelerate in math. I do remember a few students who took AP in a foreign language junior year, but they often had lived abroad -- kids who are bilingual seem to study a different foreign language than their second language. The classes are generally rigorous.

    So, I tend to think if APs are moving down too much to freshman level, are they really equivalent to a college course? In math and the sciences, it's easier to determine the answer to that question. But if a student were to take AP English as a sophomore, I'd really question the content of the class -- I don't see how it could be just like a college class.
  • tokenadulttokenadult Posts: 17,473Super Moderator Senior Member
    Thanks for the interesting comments. For perspective, I'll mention here what I remember of my ninth grade schedule from the early 1970s. (This reflects the school district in Wisconsin where I spent most of that school year; I moved from Minnesota after one month of ninth grade.)

    English--I don't recall that this was a high-track course, but I really can't remember at all.
    Science--I think this was just the regular science class for ninth graders at that school, but taught by a good and enthusiastic teacher.
    Algebra I--the highest math course available in this school, an exact repeat of my eighth-grade "enriched" math course from Minnesota, but taught by a better teacher in Wisconsin.
    General Business--the only thing that fit on my schedule for an elective, instead of the French 1 that I wanted to take.
    Choir--not as good as my choir the year before in Minnesota.
    Phy Ed
    Social Studies--I recall this being an appallingly bad class.

    The year before I had been in mostly, but not entirely, "enriched" classes in my Minnesota junior high. I had been skipped from fifth to seventh grade, so I was taking my ninth grade classes at typical eighth grade age.

    I have to agree with DeanJ's comment that AP designation for a Spanish I course is silly. I wonder if the AP audit process will stop some of that course designation grandiloquence.

    I have local acquaintance with young people from the math team I coach and from joint classes arranged by our homeschooling support group such that I know ninth-grade-age kids who are

    a) matriculating in college next fall as college freshmen,

    b) doing a great assortment of self-study APs and joint classes with other homeschoolers,

    c) taking college-as-high-school through our state's PSEO program,

    d) taking the "C" part of the AP calculus BC syllabus followed up by a one-semester linear algebra course

    http://www.itcep.umn.edu/umtymp/currentcalc.php#structure

    e) attending a residential college out of state,

    f) attending various online high schools,

    and various combinations of some of the above.

    I think any of the a) through f) possibilities I just listed might be better than the kind of ninth grade I had.

    It does sound like there is a certain sink-or-swim aspect to learning to write school term papers. That's a great skill to learn, and it doesn't seem to come "naturally" for very many students.

    It can't be easy for college admission officers to sort out all these variations of high school schedules. There are a lot of details to consider, not all of which appear on a student's transcript.
  • walkinghomewalkinghome Posts: 6,834Registered User Senior Member
    Our HS does not allow 9th graders to take any AP classes. The only AP students can take in 10th grade is AP US History. In 11th grade they can take AP Euro and I think a couple of other AP's if they meet the prerequistes, but cannot take AP English or AP US Government until 12th grade.

    My kids would definately not have been ready for AP Euro in 9th grade. In our school district they pretty much teach US History in k-8. World history is taught on a basic level in 9th grade so two thousand years worth European History is brand new material and quite difficult to absorb in just one year.
  • maritemarite Posts: 21,586Registered User Senior Member
    Tokenadult:

    My S may be a bit similar to yours in level of preparation. In 9th grade, he took MVCalc and LA; AP-Chem (he'd gone to CTY and talked his way into AP-Chem). The rest of his curriculum was so undemanding (owing to the introduction of heterogeneous classes in which some of the students read at 5th or 6th grade level) that we ended up signing him up for enrichment classes so that he could actually learn to write proper papers. I don't think that he would have been ready for APs in History and English because of maturity levels. I think it takes more than the ability to absorb information and retain it to do really well in these fields. Perhaps in 10th grade? Anyway, he took AP-USH and AP-English in 11th grade, which is the normal practice in our school.
  • oldolddadoldolddad Posts: 571Registered User Member
    I have seen some gifted programs (I think some in Teaxs) that allow AP Euro in the 9th grade. The research research and success of EPGY, CTY and CTD has shown that some students are mature enough to do some of the higher level work at the lower grades. Often the AP scores are just as good or better than the overall national scores at the higher grades and if the placemment is proper the student should not have to work so hard as to stress out. Many of these students like being challenged and often do well around older kids. Native speakers or students who go to foreign language focus school are capable of taking the AP language exams. In our situation the high school was in walking distance of the middle school so kids could actually be in a classroom rather than doing self-study. For science this allows the lab portion to be completed. As far as colleges looking at the courses, our high school puts them on the transcript and of course the followup courses taken at the college while in high school are available to adcoms as are AP scores. As always it is important to make sure this is what the child really wants to do.
  • catbirdcatbird Posts: 163Registered User Junior Member
    Our school offers no APs in 9th, and only AP Euro in 10th. My S (9th grade, just turned 13) takes precalculus and 11th grade honors English, which are like APs for him. He also takes Physics, which isn't offered to freshmen. He is aiming at 4 APs next year (English 12, Calculus, Euro, and Chemistry). That will be the end of high school offerings in English and Math, so he plans to take dual enrollment courses in 11th grade.
  • JHSJHS Posts: 13,783Registered User Senior Member
    There are two very different questions being asked in the OP:

    (1) What do you do for a 9th grader who is ready for more challenges than the normal 9th grade curriculum offers? That's a great, appropriate question, and I think the answer is that you beg, borrow & steal, do whatever it takes, to keep him or her engaged and challenged. I would hesitate to send a kid to college, though -- just not enough maturity to get full benefits out of it. There are plenty of ways to do advanced work in high school without jumping the gun so much.

    (2) How do you start grooming a college application in 9th grade? My answer: you don't. You do what's appropriate for the child, but no one should even be THINKING "what are the admissions committees going to think of this" at the 9th grade level. I think that's pernicious. It's bad enough you have to do it in 10th grade; people have to hold the line somewhere.

    Lurking behind this is a bigger issue: For lots of kids, four years of high school has no real educational benefit. Two or three would be plenty. Not just great students, either, but "normal" students with good work ethics. I think a lot of people are struggling with this one.
  • oldolddadoldolddad Posts: 571Registered User Member
    JHS: That last paragraph is so true!
  • BlahDeBlahBlahDeBlah Posts: 581Registered User Member
    The AP-related topics here always end up making me gape at the screen for a little bit. I feel like my school was an average high school...which of course means that it'd be considered to be somewhere in the 'far below average' range by the people on CC. Oh well.

    In my district, 9th grade wasn't even in the same building as the rest of the high school...it was kind of like 8th grade, year 2, so obviously we didn't have access to APs, electives, etc. If I remember correctly, I had English, US history, biology, geometry, and German 2 (all of which were the 'advanced' track), gym, and art. You weren't allowed to take APs in 10th grade either, and in 11th grade you were allowed to take AP Chemistry - but only if it wasn't already full of seniors. You had to wait until senior year to take any of the other 4 APs, but it's really unlikely that you would have been able to take all of them at once due to scheduling conflicts.
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