Natomas Pacific offers AP Research class despite only two students enrolled

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Pixabay

By Akshaj Mehta, Natomas Pacific Pathways Preparatory

The Advanced Placement Research class has been offered at Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep since the school’s beginning in 2019. This year, it’s being offered once more, except with only two students in the class.

AP Research is the second class in a two-part curriculum that starts with AP Seminar. Once students pass the Seminar exam, they are able to move on and complete AP Research, to build upon the skills that they learned in AP Seminar.

Last year at NP3, AP Seminar was a zero-period class, from 7:40-8:25 a.m., with only 6 students. Now, AP Research is a full-class period, with two students.

“I have not taught a class with two students and any other class wouldn’t have run,” said Staci Osborn, AP Research teacher. 

The reason AP Research continued this year was partly due to the effort put in by the AP Seminar students the previous year. 

Because the (AP Seminar) cohort worked so hard, it really spoke to the people to choose what classes run and how motivated they were to have that class and to have the teacher advocate it so strongly also and they found a way to make it run,” said Osborn. 

Another reason is that AP Seminar is part of a two-part class, and students have the option to receive a diploma at the end of it. Per the College Board website, “The AP Capstone Diploma is granted to students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research and on 4 additional AP Exams of their choosing,” 

Principal Melissa Mori explained why she thought AP Research was important to include, beyond the content taught in class. 

“(Admin) wanted to make sure that the AP Capstone process was able to complete and earn their certificate or diploma. Since we started the AP seminar with this group, I felt it was important to allow them to finish the process,” said Mori. 

Although the class itself has two students, there are more than that on Osborn’s role sheet.

“I knew it was small because the AP seminar class was small, and so we still built it into the master schedule, knowing it would have less than 5, said Mori. “I assigned Ms. Osbron to supervise some ARC (Dual Enrollment) students on B days. I was able to double up on the assignment that way which helped out because we didn’t have a place for the B day students to go,” 

Dual enrollment is a process at NP3 in which students take fully online college classes, but still stay in a physical class during the term. 

Last school year, AP Seminar almost didn’t become a class.

“(Last year) It was student-driven, and we were able to offer it 0 period, so it didn’t interfere with the master schedule, and Mr. (Erik) Jones was willing to do it. We didn’t have a thought during the school day to have it entered as a course, but the zero period filled that gap,” 

Meanwhile, Mori has focused on boosting enrollment in the Seminar component of the program.

“The big push this year was (for) the AP seminar to have good enrollment. We wouldn’t continue it if it was under 10 students. Now we are gaining some traction so next year’s research class will be bigger,” 

Zahra Muhammed, a senior and one of the students in the AP Research class, explained why she decided to take it.

Other than following through with the whole AP Capstone thing, it felt useless to me if I went through all the zero periods for AP Seminar only to just not go to the next level. I wanted to make use of my time and was determined to not let my time in AP Seminar not go to waste, not to mention AP research is also a good way to strengthen your research skills.”

The small class size did not discourage Muhammed. 

“I knew the class would have been small given we had only 6 people in AP Seminar, so I knew that the size of the class wouldn’t be as big, but it really didn’t change my mind because I understood taking AP Research is a lot of work,”

Senior Jack Fedor did not know about the small class size beforehand, but he was still as interested in taking AP Research.

“I decided to take AP Research because I was interested in learning about the research process and conducting my own research,” said Fedor.