AP World and AP Statistics: two new courses on deck for next year
The Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee approved two new and exciting Advanced Placement (AP) classes that will be offered beginning in the 2019-2020 academic year.
The first new course, AP World History, will be taught by social studies teacher Chris Gould, and the second, AP Statistics, will be taught by mathematics teacher Lisa Sulikowski.
As long as sophomores pass CP or honors U.S. History, they are all welcome to take AP World as juniors. Despite already offering Global History II as a junior year social studies course, the department wanted to also have a college level course option for high school students.
“It didn’t make sense for social studies to be the only academic department without any kind of AP offering,” said Department Head Simon Leutz.
Among the department’s many reasons for offering the course next school year, the one that stood out is that AP World includes the study of Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Oceania. No more than 20 percent of the content can be European.
“We want to maintain a social studies curriculum that is inclusive [of the] voices of many different people around the world,” said Mr. Leutz.
AP World offers an interesting and innovative curriculum as well. It will avoid excessive content coverage and instead be grouped around five major themes.
One such theme is the interaction between humans and the environment. Another theme is the development and transformation of social structures, which includes topics such as gender roles and racial and ethnic constructions.
Studying these themes involves folding in many sources. “[We will] spend time looking at various elements of culture besides the purely historical, such as music, art, and literature,” said an excited Mr. Gould.
He is also a fan of the progressive and modern angle to studying history, which has changed quickly in the past 20 years. “Resistance movements, for example, are all the rage,” said Mr. Gould. “Rather than me just teaching about colonialism and imperialism, we’ll look with renewed vigor at what the people ‘being colonized’ were actually doing about it.”
AP Statistics is another fresh and innovative course on deck, and offering it has been a long-time math department plan.
“When we implemented our Integrated Math curriculum, it had probability and statistics in it,” said Jane Mudie, the math Department Head. “We didn’t have much of it in our old curriculum. Now that there’s a background [in statistics], we feel that we can offer students the AP course and that they’ll have the ability do well in it,” she said.
The math department believes that people should be well-versed in the subject of statistics; many undergraduate college majors require students to take a statistics course of some kind, especially majors in environmental studies, political science, health science, and business.
“There is a lot of it in the real world,” Ms. Mudie said. “People can twist numbers and mislead you, so the more knowledgeable you are about probability and statistics, the more informed you’ll actually be in life.”
According to the course proposal document submitted by thedepartment to the school committee, AP Statistics can be taken by students that have successfully completed Integrated Math 3 Honors or Integrated Math 4 CP.
“The College Board guides us around that, but some of it is also maturity. [The course] is conceptually challenging and students have to make a lot of inferences,” Ms. Mudie said.
In terms of its curriculum, AP statistics has four major topics: exploring data by describing patterns and departures from patterns, planning and conducting a study, exploring random phenomena using probability and simulation, and estimating population parameters and testing hypotheses.
“We do projects that incorporate the skills that students learned,” said Ms. Sulikowski. “In the past statistics courses I’ve taught, the projects really took them to what they were passionate about.”
In addition to the curriculum set by the College Board, the math department would like to purchase a statistical software named Minitabs that is used at the college level. A site license for 30 computers would cost $1,000 and there is no expiration on it.
“The software that we are getting is wonderful; it’s very user friendly and is used at UMass and other colleges,” said Ms. Sulikowski.
Ultimately, the teachers of both new AP courses want their students to leave with fundamental skills and ideas that they can carry into college and their careers.
After taking AP World, Mr. Gould wants his students to be able to “dive deeply into the complications of human history and global interactions” in order to better understand the modern world. “It’s complicated, that’s what makes it fun,” he said.
Ms. Sulikowski said that she wants her students to “be able to consider and hopefully identify misleading statistical data because if anything, that’s what our country runs on—the data that swings us one way or the other.”