The Ivy Coach Daily

July 4, 2022

William Penn Charter School Moves Beyond AP Curriculum

We suspect William Penn would roll his eyes at Penn Charter’s decision to “move beyond” the AP curriculum.

Another day, another fancy prep school “moves beyond” the AP program. William Penn Charter School, the Philadelphia-based independent school founded in 1689 and the oldest Quaker school in the world, recently announced that the school would no longer offer Advanced Placement coursework and would instead rely on its own rigorous curriculum that allows for innovative teaching and deep intellectual exploration. And do you know what we’ve got to say about Penn Charter raising its nose to the AP program? Nonsense!

As Penn Charter’s administration writes on its website, “After much study, Penn Charter has decided to move beyond the College Board Advanced Placement (AP) program in favor of our own rigorous advanced courses that provide for innovative teaching and deeper exploration of content areas. This decision better aligns our academic program with our vision of educating students to live lives that make a difference…Our two-year process was led by a committee of administrators, faculty from various departments, and representation from our College Counseling office. The Class of 2025 will be the last students to access official AP courses at Penn Charter, and we will begin to develop and add to our own advanced courses over the next several years. We do this with the complete support of our College Counseling colleagues and confidence that the absence of AP designation on college transcripts will have no adverse impact on our students. In moving beyond AP, we join many other excellent independent schools in our area and in the country.”

Of course, Penn Charter’s administrators are right in that they’re not the only fancy independent school to “move beyond” the AP curriculum. In fact, administrators at another Quaker school, the Sidwell Friends School, penned a similar diatribe on their website back in 2018, a diatribe dubbed “Beyond the AP.” In any case, if you’re unsure where we stand on these moves “beyond,” know that we believe admissions officers are creates of habit. When they see great AP scores on a student’s application from Penn Charter or Sidwell Friends up against a student with no AP scores from that very high school, all else being equal, the student with great AP scores will always have an advantage. And, yes, students can indeed seek to take AP exams even if their high school isn’t offering the corresponding AP coursework.

Heck, Penn Charter writes the following in its missive about moving beyond AP: “While many colleges and universities will offer credit or class preference for superior performance on an AP exam, an AP course on a student’s transcript is just an indicator of advanced level course work.” Fine. So Penn Charter families should use these words against the school and fight to take the AP exams even if PC isn’t offering the corresponding courses. Now just watch how that language quickly disappears on the school’s website in the weeks to come…

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