ECHS: The No AP School
With college tuition costs continually skyrocketing, and with a globally competitive Higher Education marketplace, it’s no surprise that college-bound high school students are looking for ways to increase preparedness for college, and decrease the total amount of credit hours they need to earn their increasingly expensive degree.
As prospective High School parents and students navigate the competitive college prep landscape and are considering various public and private High Schools, there are certain metrics that are used in an attempt to compare and contrast the academic rigor of the institutions. Frequently, these searches center around statistics like graduate college placement percentage, student/teacher ratio, and Advanced Placement offerings.
So when I toured Eastern Christian High School for the first time and put on my “prospective family hat,” I asked the familiar questions about these same, traditional metrics. I learned that ECHS places 95% of graduates in college programs (so far so good). I learned that ECHS has an 11:1 student:teacher ratio. (Nice. That is a lot of personalized attention for a school with this many academic offerings!)
And then I learned that ECHS offers exactly ZERO Advanced Placement offerings! This shocked me. For a school that claimed to be an excellent academic education that is preparing students to transform the world, this seemed contradictory.
Then I learned that ECHS has intentionally steered away from AP offerings, and I was even more skeptical!
But as I learned what ECHS does offer for college preparation, I re-engaged ECHS with renewed vigor. What this school does by way of college prep is truly unique. Unique can have a polarizing effect. A “unique” program can be an indicator of an innovative, leading program, or it can mean that you’re out of touch with reality. After hearing about this program for myself, I’ll argue strongly that the ECHS college prep program is the former.
If you are zigging while everyone else is zagging, you had better have a good reason. After I delved into it, I have come to realize two things: ECHS is committed to providing the best education possible, and AP classes may not be all they are cracked up to be.
Project Acceleration: PA, not AP
Let’s take a look at the ECHS college prep program: Project Acceleration. Here’s a handy FAQ about the program:
What is Project Acceleration?
Project Acceleration is a dual enrollment program with Seton Hall University which enables students to begin the challenge of taking college courses while in high school. Students can earn up to 41 college credits while still enrolled in high school. Eastern Christian High School Project Acceleration teachers are state-certified and serve as adjunct professors at Seton Hall University. Project Acceleration teachers hold a master’s degree in their area of expertise.
What courses are included in Project Acceleration?
- Advanced Biology (3 credits)
- Anatomy & Physiology (4 credits)
- Physics Honors (4 credits)
- Chemistry Honors (3 credits)
- Chemistry Honors 2 (4 credits)
- Calculus (4 credits)
- Calculus 2 (4 credits)
- Advanced Composition (3 credits)
- English 3 Honors (3 credits)
- English 4 Honors (3 credits)
- US History 1 Honors (3 credits)
- US History 2 Honors (3 credits)
What does Project Acceleration cost?
Each college credit costs $100 through Project Acceleration. Seton Hall University’s on-campus undergraduate rate is $1,220 per credit. This program may allow students to accumulate enough credits to graduate a semester early, resulting in substantial savings on college tuition.
How are the credits applied for transfer purposes?
When students apply to college, they request a transcript directly from Seton Hall University in order for their Project Acceleration credits to be received and reviewed by the prospective college.
What are the differences between a Project Acceleration and an Advanced Placement course?
- Concept-driven (Learn through the entire semester)
- Course terminates in June
- Test-driven (Learn information for one big test at the end)
- Early May test date
- Credits granted with a C or above earned in class
- Credits granted with an AP exam score of 3, 4, or 5
- State certified
- Master’s degree
- Adjunct professor
Where can I get additional information on dual credit and Advanced Placement courses?
A number of elite private schools have opted to provide dual credit courses rather than advanced placement courses. For additional information, the following links may be helpful:
PA > AP
So when I totaled it all up and weighed the pros and cons of each approach, it became very clear to me that PA is indeed greater than AP. It is a program that is more authentic to the learning process, more in-line with college education, and it allows for credits “in hand” from a prestigious university, as opposed to hoping for a certain score on one test.
Despite my initial skepticism, I am convinced that we really can proudly proclaim that Eastern Christian High School is (quite intentionally) a no AP school!