AP® and Honors Courses

Spring Lake Park High Schools offers a number of Advanced Placement (AP®) and Honors courses to challenge students.

Advanced Placement (AP®) Courses

Advanced Placement (AP®) courses are designed by the College Board, which means AP® courses in any high school utilize a common set of learning objectives. This gives students the chance to tackle college level work while they are still in high school.  Students will see and feel what college work is like, while receiving the support to help them get there.  An AP® course is designed to help a student stand out in college admissions and skip introductory classes.  At the end of the course, students will have the opportunity to take the AP® Exam, possibly earning college credit.

Students have the opportunity to dig deeper into subjects that interest them, develop advanced research and communication skills, and learn to tap their individual creative, problem-solving, and analytical potential.  Students will tackle concepts that will stick with them long after the class is over.  In AP® classes, learning means sharing ideas and adding unique perspectives — the dialogue and debate contributes to the knowledge that everyone shares.

Each college is different in terms of what is accepted for AP® scores and how credit is honored, so always be sure to check the college website or go to www.collegeboard.org

Advanced Placement® weighted grade system

Beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, a weighted grading system, using a .5 grading system, was applied to all AP® grades. For example, a grade of “A” is equal to 4.0 GPA points. Using the weighted grade system, a grade of “A” will be equal to a 4.5 GPA. The weighted grade system will add .5 GPA points to each grade earned in an AP® course.

All student transcripts will no longer include a student’s class rank and will show the student’s weighted and unweighted GPA. These changes are similar to what has occurred in most neighboring school districts. Students and families may still request class rank if needed for college admissions and scholarships.

Honors Courses

An honors course parallels the curriculum offered in the corresponding standard course, yet should be qualitatively and quantitatively different, providing more depth and complexity to a range of students who are high achieving, passionate, and/or innately curious.  An honors course demands the highest level of participation, effort, and quality, as well as the willingness to take academic risks from students. 

As with any class, a teacher of an honors class develops and implements effective high-quality curriculum and experiences which recognize variance in learner needs. An honors course differs from the corresponding standard course in three ways: complex thinking, depth, and use of time.

Complex thinking:  Honors course learning requires the advanced ability to problem solve, synthesize knowledge, and use increased levels of divergent, critical, logical, and abstract thinking. In an honors course, the content includes more abstract concepts and more interdisciplinary connections than in the regular classroom.

Depth:  An honors course allows students to dive deeper into the content and moves students toward greater expertise in a subject area. Students will examine the big ideas, patterns, and ethical dilemmas related to topics within the course.  Students are encouraged to write, read, reflect, and discuss like an expert in the field. 

Use of time:  An honors course allows for an increased amount of time for depth and breadth, with not as much time spent building recall knowledge.  The content will have less repetition and fewer teacher led examples allowing students to engage more deeply with the content independently and collaboratively. 

Student Success

Honors Courses

Students in honors courses should be prepared to develop or enhance the ability to:

  • advocate for your individual needs as a learner
  • access a challenging text independently
  • think creatively
  • manage time well
  • work independently and collaboratively
  • enjoy participating in dialogue and debate

AP® Courses

You don't need to be top of your class to take an AP® course, but you'll want to be prepared.  Some AP courses have recommended prerequisites and all AP® courses ask that you come willing to do your best work.  You should expect rigorous coursework that will require high-level time management and study skills. 

To choose an AP® course that's right for you, talk to your dean for personalized learning or teacher about the subjects that interest you and ask about your options for learning the skills to help you succeed. 

Available Courses


The following Advanced Placement® and honors courses are offered at Spring Lake Park High School.


  • AP® English Language and Composition (Grade 11)
  • AP® English Literature and Composition (Grade 12)
  • Honors Language Arts 9
  • Honors Language Arts 10
  • Honors Language Arts 11


  • AP® Calculus
  • AP® Advanced Calculus
  • AP® Statistics
  • Honors Geometry
  • Honors Physical Science


  • AP® Biology
  • AP® Chemistry
  • Honors Chemistry
  • AP® Physics

Social Studies

  • AP® Human Geography
  • AP® U.S. History
  • AP® Government & Politics
  • AP® Psychology
  • AP® World History


  • AP® Spanish 5
  • AP® Art Studio 2D
  • AP® Art Studio 3D
  • Global Technology Communication – AP® Computer Science Principles

Importance of AP®

What’s the importance of Advanced Placement (AP®) courses?
AP® courses allow high school students the opportunity to take college-level courses in a high school setting. The classes provide challenging coursework for students who are eager to learn and develop college readiness capabilities. Colleges encourage high school students to take AP® classes as an indicator that students are challenging themselves and fostering the skills needed to succeed in post-secondary institutions. Admission offices value the experience of students who have been successful in the most rigorous courses during high school.

Research suggests that AP® students who have passed an AP® exam are significantly more likely to graduate from college than their matched non-AP® peers. The percent of a school’s students who take and pass AP® exams is a strong indicator of whether a high school is preparing its students to graduate from college (Dougherty, Mellor and Jian 2006). In another study Hargrove, Godwin and Dodd (2008) concluded that students taking AP® courses over non-AP® experiences realized benefits in their subsequent college GPA, credits earned and graduation performance.

Earning College Credit with AP®

AP® scores show how well students do on the AP® Exam. It's also a measure of achievement in the college-level AP® course. Colleges will use this score to determine if they will grant credit for what has already been learned, or allow students to skip the equivalent course once students get to college. Click here to find colleges and universities that grant credit for AP® Exam scores. The score is a weighted combination of scores on the multiple-choice section and on the free-response section. The final score is reported on a 5-point scale as follows:

5 = extremely well qualified
4 = well qualified
3 = qualified
2 = possibly qualified
1 = no recommendation

"Qualified" means that students have proven themselves capable of doing the work of an introductory-level course in a particular subject at college. Many colleges and universities grant credit and placement for scores of 3, 4 or 5; however, each college decides which scores it will accept. Always be sure to check the college website or go to www.collegeboard.org