Beyond the AP: A Template for Curricular and Cultural Change | Peter Hatala and Dr. Meredith Legg | 17 Min Read

February 12, 2024

Noting the constraints imposed by Advanced Placement (AP) programs and the potential for a more creative curriculum, independent schools are increasingly opting to eliminate or significantly reduce their AP offerings in favor of home-grown alternatives. In their 2018 joint statement on their collective move away from the AP, eight DC area independent schools expressed the hopes of many schools making the same decision when they wrote, “We expect this approach will appeal to students’ innate curiosity, increase their motivation, and fuel their love of learning.” 

While the “why” for moving “beyond the AP” is often clear and compelling, the “how” is the more daunting task to consider. While the temptation exists for school administrators to simply decree a change and expect a lock step response from faculty, such increasingly outmoded approaches to curricular change often produce poor results, little enthusiasm, and fail to create a culture conducive to creativity, innovation, and shared sense of purpose and belonging. In moving beyond the AP at Emma Willard School, a 9-12 girls’ boarding and day school in Troy, NY, we sought to engage our faculty in a collaborative, multi-step process. This process aimed to generate substantial and enduring…

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Peter Hatala

Peter Hatala is currently Director of Studies at The Webb Schools. Previously, he was the Director of Curriculum and Innovation at Emma Willard School.