Students and teachers of AP classes grapple with challenges of new schedule

One of the major changes to Burke’s schedule this year is that core classes will be confined to one semester only. For every student, both middle school and high school, that means that normally year-long courses are shortened to little over 18 weeks, with the notable exception of certain math classes. Additionally, most of Burke’s Advanced Placement courses were placed in the Fall term, even with exams scheduled to take place in the spring. 

Some AP students are feeling a lot of anxiety around this change. “The timeline is challenging. ” Katie Hirsche ‘21 said. “Eighteen weeks isn’t nearly enough time to cover everything in a course …it’s not ideal.” Gabriel Brumberg ‘22 agreed, saying, “It certainly changes the way that I will be studying for the [AP] tests, and I think that contributes to a small amount of nervousness, given that we won’t be in class up until the day of the exam, and there will be that period of no classes but necessary studying.”

Others had a different look, preferring to look on the bright side. “They’ve definitely sort of changed my viewing of [the AP test], I think [the changes made] probably made me more relaxed about them, because we have all of the second semester to review,” Eli Lieberman ‘22 said. “But on one hand, while we’re rushing through it and it’s a lot more intense, it gives us all that time to review … it’s reassuring in that sense where we’ll have so much time to go over it over and over again.” 

A number of teachers also expressed frustration with how the schedule affects the way they teach. “The schedule changes have massively changed the way I teach. My teaching style is very much a hands-on, group-based, project-based style. It’s extremely hard to convert that to a socially distanced mode.” said Mitch Masucci, who teaches Advanced Economics, AP Government, and AP US History. “I have to put a lot more thought into how much work to give, and what concepts and skills are most necessary for the AP exam, and then balance that with getting what I believe is a good, solid grounding in the subject itself, regardless of what the AP curriculum might be.” 

Jamie Leopold, who teaches AP Calculus AB, agreed. “It is extremely difficult to cram so much material in a short amount of time,” she said. “In my other classes, I can cut some topics that I don’t think are as important, but in an AP class, I don’t have that luxury because I have to prepare my students for the AP exam.”

Most students and teachers, while recognizing the use of this system while still on lockdown, don’t want to continue. “Honestly, no. I would not want to keep any of the changes. This schedule is very challenging for AP classes and it will be a lot better when our schedule goes back to normal.” Leopold said. Brumberg agreed. “Under normal circumstances, the seven day schedule, as odd as it is, is very effective, and students like it as a general rule … so I don’t mind the changes for online learning, but I don’t think they should carry them on.”

Editor’s Note: Burke recently announced a hybrid reopening plan that will change some day to day schedules but not overall course lengths.