Northampton Area School District may reduce AP sign-up minimum
Northampton Area High School students have made a plea for more difficult courses.
And the Northampton Area School Board gave them a willing ear.
The students came forth at the April 14 school board meeting following a presentation about Advanced Placement Courses by Northampton Area High School Principal Steven Seier and NASD Director of Curriculum and Instruction Programs Lydia Hanner.
What the administrators seek from the school board, and what the students who spoke support, is a relaxation of the minimum student class size for an advanced placement course to be taught.
"We'll monitor the schedule this spring and into the summer," said NASD Superintendent of Schools Joseph Kovalchik.
NASD requires a minimum of 15 students enroll for an advanced placement course. Otherwise, the course is not scheduled.
Proposed is to reduce the minimum to 10 students required to enroll in an advanced placement course.
"I'm all for it," said school Director Jean Rundle.
"I think it's time to reconsider, going back to 10 is an acceptable limit," said school board President David Gogel.
Kovalchik emphasized that the change would not require hiring additional teachers.
Ben Longacre, an NAHS senior and student council representative to the school board, spoke in favor of reducing the minimum class size for an advanced placement course.
"I think it's very vital to have that smaller class size, Longacre said. "I would like you to create a maximum of 20 or 25 [students per advanced placement class]."
Longacre said advanced placement courses "boost students' college chances."
There's a bonus for students and their families, Longacre said: "In these tough economic times, it allows kids to get basic classes out of the way."
Also speaking in favor of reducing the minimum number of students required for an advanced placement course to be scheduled were Ryan Hartzell, an NAHS senior, and Grace Cochrane, an NAHS junior.
"I would really like to explore the classes before college to see if I'm really interested," said Cochrane.
School Director Judy Odenwelder said, "It's very nice to hear the students."
Examples of advanced placement courses offered and the number of students enrolled include: German, 21, and Spanish, 18.
Examples of advanced placement courses planned but not scheduled and the number of students who planned to enroll include: European, 14, and Physics, 11.
Advanced placement courses are now part of the Pennsylvania Department of Education school district profiles.
"We're trying to increase the rigor of our offerings," Seier said.
NASD partners with Lehigh University, Moravian College and Northampton Community College to offer college-level courses for its students.
For the 2014-15 school year, there are 481 requests by students for advanced placement courses.
For the 2013-14 school year, there were 448 requests by students for advanced placement courses.
For the 2012-13 school year, there were 510 requests by students for advanced placement courses.
For the 2011-12 school year, there were 418 requests by students for advanced placement courses.