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.