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Honors & Advanced placement courses

As students proceed through their four years at Serra, they are given opportunities to enroll in higher level courses based on their course work, qualifying tests, standardized test results, and other criteria established by each department.  Generally, students who achieve a B grade or higher in an honors class will be able to take the honors course at the next level.  Students in the College Prep level of a class will need to achieve an A grade in order to qualify for an honors course at the next level.  However, each department seeks to establish criteria for placement that are based on the skills, concepts, and critical thinking required for the next level.

Advanced Placement Program:

We expect that all students enrolled in our Advanced Placement courses will take the Advanced Placement exam.  Enrollment in these courses is not open to all students.  Instead, we offer placement in these classes based on the likelihood of their success on the exam. 

Our Advanced Placement program includes the courses listed below.  You may download a .pdf file providing detailed descriptions, as well as course outcomes for each course by clicking on the individual course links. 

AP Biology

AP Calculus

AP Computer Science

AP English Language

AP English Literature

AP Government

AP Physics

AP Language and Tri School Course

AP US History 

General Philosophy:

Aligned with its mission as a college preparatory school, Junípero Serra High School strives to provide a broad based instructional program, designed to help students gain admission and succeed in the college program best suited to the individual student. One key component of this is the Advanced Placement program, which serves to challenge our students at the highest possible level and help them earn college credit for courses taken while still in high school.

Selection Criteria and Other Considerations:

Each department has developed its own criteria that govern the selection of students into their Advanced Placement courses. Although each department’s criteria are separate, there are several common components:

  •  Selection of students into courses is ultimately linked to the likelihood that students will be able to succeed in the class and pass the AP exam with a grade of three or higher.
  • Selection of students is linked by their performance on the types of outcomes and assignments that students will have to master for the AP exam.
  • Students who sign up for an Advanced Placement course with their counselor must also complete an AP Contract, in which the student is asked to provide information about his level of time that he is willing to commit to the class. The contract will be reviewed by the administration and teachers; only those students whose contracts have been approved will be accepted into the AP class. Official notification will come before the end of the spring semester.
Other Considerations:
  • When choosing their courses, students and their parents should consider the benefits of taking the most rigorous course of study possible, and weigh those merits against the increased workload that those courses entail. Students who intend to apply to more selective colleges and universities will be expected to take a challenging schedule of courses but also succeed at a high level in those courses that they select. This is best accomplished through constructive dialogue among students, parents, counselors, and teachers.
  • Advanced Placement courses are designed to give students college credit, and the workload expected of students is accordingly more rigorous than standard college-preparatory or even honors courses in the same discipline. Students should keep this in mind when making their course selections, and balance the increased study time with their other classes as well as athletics, job, or even family commitments.
  • In order to better prepare their students for the exams, teachers of Advanced Placement courses often require summer study sessions, summer assignments, or weekend study or review sessions during the school year. Students are required to meet these commitments, which will ultimately assist them in preparing for the exam. Students must be willing to make sacrifices with their free time and be aware of the extra time that they may need to commit to these courses. 
  • Staffing needs are linked to the number of students who sign up for courses. Students who sign up for an AP class and choose to drop the course before the end of spring semester will be permitted to do so without penalty. However, once spring semester is over students will only be allowed to drop an AP course if the administration determines that it is in the best interest of the students AND there is space available in the new course. This is especially important for students to consider in light of the requirement by some teachers for students to do summer work; students who do not meet the summer study requirements will not be allowed to drop the course as a result. The administration will make the final determination in all such cases.
  • All students enrolled in the Advanced Placement class are required to pay the exam fee (approximately $90) and take the Advanced Placement exam in May.

Click here to download AP Parents Night General Information document (Same info as above).

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