Are freshman getting smarter?

With a new AP course, the Freshman (’17) are looking to beat the curve.


Photo Credit: Nadia Fazal

Will the Freshman succeed on the new AP offering, or will it sneak up on them?

Glen Rock high school has put the class of 2017 to the test, offering the first Advanced Placement (AP) course to freshman at Glen Rock High School.

You often hear fellow students complaining about all the work of an AP class. The homework, tests, essays, and not to mention all the reading. Taking an AP course is no joke; it requires time management, dedication, and the mental maturity to take-in the content of the class. Then, of course, there’s the actual test — months of curriculum jammed into one exam in May.

All this stress and work, along with one’s other classes, isn’t easy to handle. For this reason, freshmen have never before been offered an AP class. For the school year of 2013-2014 this has changed. For the first time freshman are able to take AP World History. Thirty two freshmen have taken on this challenge. Teaching both classes, history teacher Ms. Maasarani has shown optimism for her students and believes the majority of them are doing well.

Naturally, a new advanced class like this creates some obstacles, yet the students are to the challenge.  ”So far so good,” Ms. Maasarani said, “But I do think that they are… some of them are questioning the amount of work.  My struggle right now with some of them — it’s a lot of work, there’s a lot of essays, and they’re just not used to it.”

Ms. Maasarani mentioned a major component when teaching a class like this is to avoid reducing the course to a lower level and to keep it as a college level course. This causes a “huge learning curve” as Ms. Maasarani put it. Between the additional content and skills in analyzing and essay writing that must be taught, it’s not an easy class to teach.

Freshmen Jack Desalvo and Robert Ray both seemed excited about their AP class and said they really like it. Robert said, “I like it because it’s more challenging.”

Perhaps this enthusiasm toward the challenge is a reason why the AP course was introduced in the first place.

Ms. Maasarani, reflecting on her six years of teaching, believed that there was a need for a more challenging World History class.

Jack said that the “DBQ [document based questions] essays” were the most difficult aspect, a traditional answer for any AP student.

A big question the upper classmen have is, why start the class now?

Ms. Maasarani said, “We started thinking about it a couple [of] years ago, probably Mr. Arlotta had a lot to do with making it happen. I know [that in] the school that he came from, they offered it to freshman… and they had a lot of success with it.”

After undergoing the approval process and getting textbooks, this was the first year the school was able to offer the AP course.