AP Biology Change

The Newton North and Newton South Science Departments are making a change in the pathway that students follow to take AP Biology. In the past, this course was offered as an intensive introduction to biology, taken mostly by juniors and a few seniors. Students were in essence skipping over high school biology and jumping right into college biology. We feel that students will benefit from entering the course with a stronger foundational knowledge of biology. This approach is aligned with the College Board’s articulation of a pre-AP Biology curriculum and with their recommendation that AP Biology be a second year course. It should also address the recent changes that shift the focus of the AP Biology Curriculum towards higher-order thinking applications. 

Starting with the class of 2016, Newton High School students who are interested in taking AP Biology will need to first complete Honors or Advanced College Prep Biology in their junior year, and then elect to take AP Biology in their senior year. (Note that both high schools will now offer an Honors Biology course and that “Advanced College Prep” is the new name for the Curriculum I curriculum level at the high schools.) Before making this decision, the science departments did significant research about the sequence of courses at neighboring schools, reviewed the recommendations of the College Board, and consulted with the College and Career counselors. All of the data gathered supported making AP Biology a second course in Biology. Please note that this decision is also supported by the principals, other administrators, and counselors at both schools.

We trust these changes will support student success in AP Biology, helping all students to learn the content effectively and in a manner that helps maintain a healthy academic balance. We hope to continue with the high level of success that most students have had, and also to improve our success with those students who have struggled with AP biology as a first year course. Additionally, in making these changes we hope to increase the availability of this course to a larger pool of students, including students who have been historically under-represented in AP Biology.

We would like to remind students that there are other options for AP courses available to juniors, including AP Chemistry, as well as other course outside of science.

If you have further questions, please contact the department head at your respective high school:

Newton South High School
Gerard Gagnon

Newton North High School
Amy Winston