New Haven high school students have faced difficulty enrolling in their desired Advanced Placement and honors classes this fall, according to student testimony at last week’s New Haven Board of Education meeting.

Makayla Dawkins, a junior at James Hillhouse High School and a student representative on the BOE, presented the issue last Monday in front of the board, reporting that students, including herself, had been removed from AP and honors classes because too many students had been recommended for them. She also said the district’s independent study coordinators, who help students enroll in college classes during high school, were overburdened and unable to meet student needs.

“I was in AP Government and Politics and they kicked mostly all the juniors out even though it covers one of the credits that we need, which is civics,” said Tyree Allen, a Hillhouse junior.

Allen said she wanted to challenge herself by taking the AP class, but that she is now enrolled in a basic civics class which she said was easy. She attempted to speak to her guidance counselor about the matter but was not able to re-enroll in the class. Allen said she does not plan on taking AP Government as a senior, as she will already have fulfilled the civics credit needed to graduate.

Gabby Clermont, a student at Hill Regional Career High School, said she was unable to take Anatomy and Physiology honors due to oversubscription problems and is instead enrolled in a course called “Medical Careers.”

Clermont added that she also wanted to take AP U.S. History, but registered for AP Psychology last spring and was unable to switch classes in the fall. She said she now enjoys her psychology class, but that she knows other students who were upset at not being able to take AP classes that they had not listed on their class forms at the end of the last school year.

Dawkins said she was removed from Hillhouse’s AP Government class alongside Allen and a dozen other randomly selected juniors. However, she said she was readmitted last Friday after speaking with the school’s principal.

She also noted that her school shares its independent study coordinator with several other high schools in the city, and that students have faced challenges meeting with the study coordinator and receiving registration help. However, she said district officials have told her NHPS will hire more coordinators.

Will Clark, NHPS’ chief operating officer, said he believes miscommunication and logistical problems in scheduling may be to blame for the students’ complaints. He said overall course offerings are designed to provide appropriate course and credit options for the student population. 

“AP courses tend to have specific requirements and expectations associated thereto. Class size is not usually an issue at the AP level per se,” Clark said in an email to the News. “But there are always logistics associated with schedules (both staff and student) that at times require some navigation and adjustment.”

However, Clark said that if students are expressing a need, then administrators must adjust the school’s resources as necessary.

Hillhouse is the oldest public high school in New Haven.

Sara Tabin |