Pingree students aren’t standard; why should their curriculum be?

Pingree’s independence affords us the incredible opportunity and responsibility to innovate our program in service to our students and our mission. As part of this commitment, Pingree spent two years reexamining whether the College Board’s advanced placement (AP) curriculum best serves our students. In March 2020, Pingree School’s Curriculum Committee voted unanimously to transcend beyond the AP curriculum; we will replace advanced placement courses with independent, mission-aligned advanced courses in all disciplines designed by our faculty.


True rigor is more than depth of coverage and mastery; it requires students to apply knowledge in new and novel ways. We view the most advanced courses as those that expect original thinking and invite students to make connections across disciplines.

Kristin Brown, Associate Head of School


This is a powerful decision. Moving beyond APs will give our students more opportunities to uncover new talents and showcase their achievements, further distinguishing themselves in a competitive college admission landscape. Transcending APs will allow our talented faculty the freedom to design relevant, responsive, and authentic coursework that helps students meet their true potential. Please use the resources below to learn more about Pingree’s plan to move beyond AP.


Dr. Timothy M. Johnson, Head of School

As an independent school, we have both the privilege and responsibility to innovate our program continually, ensuring that we provide students with the robust educational experiences that will prepare them as citizens and leaders for the complex demands of our world. We seek for Pingree students to graduate with confidence in their skills, the courage to take informed risks with character and integrity, and the inspiration to engage in the world around them with curiosity and creativity. 

I am excited to announce Pingree’s next curricular initiative, which will transform the way in which we live out our school’s mission. Pingree School will phase out its use of the advanced placement (AP) designation, effectively transcending APs, beginning with the class of 2025. These courses will be replaced by a collection of advanced courses in all disciplines designed by Pingree’s talented and skilled faculty. 


Evolving Rigor: The Case for Transcending APs

At Pingree, we define true rigor as that which allows students to meet their academic potential, and the most advanced courses are those that require students to make connections from one discipline to another and inspire intellectual risk taking. Transcending APs enriches students' academic experience in the following ways.

Increases students' curricular choice and voice

 AP courses lock seniors into year-long courses; our advanced courses will open to students more variety, including single-term options that allow them to explore academic interests while challenging themselves at the top of their ability.


Provides additional flexibility for all of our programs

In addition to providing flexibility for our academic program, eliminating AP courses will make possible the expansion of L.A.B. offerings, project-based learning, and other engaging educational experiences.


Aligns with our commitment to access and equity

Standardized testing has been proven to benefit privileged students through implicit bias, access to support resources, and content selection. Moving beyond the AP is consistent with our Equity and Anti-racism Action Plan.


Builds in students the skills necessary for college success

AP classes do not provide a genuine preview of college coursework. Transcending the AP allows us to develop courses that focus more on critical thinking, skill development, and collaborative problem-solving.


Colleges Respond to Our Decision to Transcend APs

In every application that we read, we seek to understand the courses and level of courses that have been made available to the student at their high school... At Holy Cross we have great respect for the academic rigor of coursework at Pingree, and I have no doubt that as they phase out AP courses, Pingree students will be incredibly challenged, exceptionally inspired, and receive uncommon support in the classroom and in the college process.

College of the Holy Cross

The elimination of AP classes won’t have any impact on a student’s application. When we review applications and evaluate the strength of a student’s curriculum, we do so based on what was offered to them at their school. We’ll never penalize them for something they cannot take; we will consider the various levels of rigor available to them, as well as how they progress within the curriculum of a particular subject area (moving from pre-calculus to calculus, for example).

Providence College

We want to see students challenge themselves in their coursework. We aren’t married to AP classes and instead look to see that students are successful in the most rigorous classes their school offers.

Emory University

“Eliminating AP’s will not affect a student’s chances of admission. When evaluating an applicant, we are always looking at the context of the school and the curriculum offered. We do not favor one curriculum over another, and we know many different curriculums can prepare a student for college. We just want students to find ways to challenge themselves within their context and to make the most of the experience at their high school.”

Vanderbilt University

We read in the context of the school an applicant attends, meaning we’re looking for students to pursue the most challenging curriculum available to them at their school. We will not penalize students for not pursuing grading structures that aren’t a part of their school’s curriculum (AP, IB, etc.).”

University of Southern California

Transcending AP: Frequently Asked Questions