Low enrollment causes removal of AP Physics 2 class

Jennifer Dye

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With low enrollment of seven students at the start of the 2019-2020 school year, Advanced Placement (AP) Physics 2 was removed on the first week of school from Bonita Vista High’s (BVH) class selection, leaving several students without their preferred science class.

According to BVH Principal Roman Del Rosario, Ed.D, the district provides the school with a certain allocation annually in order to prevent an imbalance in class sizes. This allocation is found by taking the number of BVH’s general education students and dividing that by 28, a ratio negotiated by teachers and the district.

“Most teachers cannot exceed 176 students, so what happens when we only have so much allocation is that classes [which] are too small are no longer viable. [This is] because that allocation must be used to support other classes to make sure teachers stay under their contractual limit,” Del Rosario said.

As stated by Physics teacher Elan Hiller, the AP Physics 2 class has normally had around twenty students each year, but in recent years it has been combined with AP Physics C, an engineering physics class to combat the low enrollment in both classes, though this year that was not the case, since the class was removed.

“I had a student last year who really wanted to take AP Physics C,” Hiller said. “This young man did a lot of recruiting on his own and got students from other classes that were interested and gathered enough people to form a class [that could be supported by the school].”

The cause for low enrollment does not have a definite answer, though both Hiller and Del Rosario believe that it is due to more options for classes at BVH and the rigorous content this particular class provides.

“[AP Physics 2] has a lot of context,” Del Rosario said. “This year and the last year we have added new electives such as, Anatomy and Physiology, AP Computer Science Principles, AP Computer Science and Marine Biology, all of which add to more competition and less students in particular classes.”

Depending on next year’s enrollment and the interests of students, there is a chance of either the AP Physics 2 class or AP Physics C coming back, similar to the previous year. Though, Del Rosario and Hiller stress that if students recruit others to join the class, it is a definite possibly for the classes to return in the following year.

“[If AP Physics 2 were to come back] I would take it, but in my opinion it is more likely that AP Physics C will come back as a class. [It] is related to engineering and a lot of students are interested in that,” former AP Physics 2 student and junior Nicholas Piazza said.

According to Del Rosario, without advanced classes like AP Physics 2, BVH will be missing the opportunity for students to take such contextually advanced and rigorous courses.

“The AP program, no matter what the class, offers a way for us to simulate a college level rigor. So, we are missing out on the opportunity to allow students to engage at a college level rigor, at least now with one section being removed,” Hiller said.

Although they are upset that the class is no longer available this year, Hiller and Piazza have both expressed their hopefulness for the class to return in the following year.

“I’m going to miss it [teaching AP Physics 2], I wish it were still here, but I understand the administration’s decision. They have to do what’s best for the entire school. I would love to have a class with seven students, but it’s not realistic and I understand the balance that has to happen between one class and another class,” Hiller said.