As a forward-thinking school committed to academic excellence and preparing our students to lead lives of impact, we take seriously our responsibility to continually assess our program.
After many years engaged in research and discussion with educational leaders and college admission professionals, culminating in the work of the Westridge Strategic Plan 2020-2025, Westridge has decided to move away from the College Board's Advanced Placement (AP) program.
It will be replaced with Advanced Courses designed to make rigor come alive in ways that promote deeper learning and the critical thinking skills and habits of mind that colleges and employers are looking for today and for the future.
We are developing advanced courses that:
- introduce more meaningful rigor by shifting from the memorization of facts to the application of knowledge—knowing how to think about and synthesize information to solve problems and produce original analyses
- are more inquiry-based and demand sophisticated, independent thinking
- prepare our students for the world today and in the future by emphasizing learning and skills that colleges and workplaces report valuing
- provide flexibility for in-depth discussions to flourish and course content and projects to be responsive to student interest and real-world events, both central to deep learning and information retention
- offer more diverse perspectives and content
- allow for significantly more personalized teaching and learning
- move beyond the solo endeavor of AP studies to more collaborative learning, which research shows improves learning outcomes
- integrate more student research projects and interdisciplinary studies
Our Three-Year Transition Beyond APs
We have introduced the first new Advanced Courses this school year, and will continue to phase in additional courses over the next three years until fall of 2025, when we will have shifted to Advanced Courses exclusively.
The following four new advanced courses have been introduced for the 2022-2023 school year:
- Crisis and Courage in Global History (replacing AP European History)
- Identity, Borders, and Revolutions: Advanced Cultural Studies in Spanish (replacing AP Spanish)
- Latin IV Vergil: From the Underworld to Olympus (replacing AP Latin)
- Full Stack Web Development (a new course)
- Why is Westridge making this change? What prompted reconsideration of APs?
- Will the Advanced Courses be as rigorous as AP courses?
- What are the criteria for the new Advanced Courses? How will you assure students are challenged?
- Will Westridge administer AP exams, and will the new Advanced Courses prepare students to sit for AP exams?
- How will the elimination of AP courses impact students’ college admissions?
- Aren’t APs more important than ever in college admissions when many schools are moving away from SATs?
- Will a lack of AP courses impact admission to University of California schools because that system relies so heavily on standard measures?
- What other schools have shifted from APs to their own advanced courses?
- Why have you decided to move to unweighted grades?
- Will students be hurt in the college admission process because their grades will no longer be weighted?
- How will Westridge’s new approach to advanced classes be communicated to colleges and universities?
- Will students be able to gain college credit for their Advanced Courses like they can for AP courses?
- Is it true that international universities require AP scores in their applications?
- How will students categorize Advanced Courses on the Common App?
- Is this being done to decrease student stress?
- What does this paradigm shift in Westridge’s approach to advanced learning mean for the lower divisions of the school?
- Westridge School 2020-2025 Strategic Plan (PDF)
- "Searching for Deeper Learning," The Harvard Gazette
- "Trends Lines: Revisiting the AP Debate," NAIS Magazine
- "Purpose Learning: Reimagining What & How Students Learn," NAIS Magazine
- "What if Weighted Grades are Meaningless," Inside Higher Ed
- "15 Soft Skills You Need to Succeed When Entering the Workforce," Forbes
- "The Quest for Deeper Learning" (30 min), Harvard Graduate School of Education
- "Deeper Learning," NAIS (video)
- "Designing Backward to Move Forward" (45 min), NAIS (podcast)
- "Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions," Making Caring Common, A Project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education