By Lauren Rose
The number of students taking AP Economics nearly doubled this year, increasing from four to six sections, and requiring two new instructors to teach the class.
The difference is credited to a change in the prerequisite for the class, an increased level of interest in the subject among students, and mathematical and sociological aspects of the class that appeal to a wide range of people.
âIt technically is a math class and a social science,â Dean Sharon Cuseo said. âItâs appropriate for people who are both interested in social sciences and math.â
âI think there are two things going on,â math teacher Kent Nealis said. âOne is that thereâs a greater interest among students about economic issues. Students are more aware now about the world and they ask a lot of questions and they want answers. Thereâs been a national increase in the field of economy.â
âThe second part is an effort by the math department to make the AP Economics course accessible to a larger amount of students,â Nealis said. âWe did change the prerequisite for the course.â
Before, at least a B+ in Pre-calculus was required. Now, a B+ or higher in the lower-level Pre-calculus: Trigonometry and Functions is necessary.
âI think the previous prerequisite was unnecessarily restrictive,â Nealis said. âA number of students who would have benefited from the course did not take the course.â
Nealis, who has been teaching AP Economics since he came to the school in 1991, is will be joined by math teacher Kevin Weis and Chief Financial Officer Rob Levin.
âIt was not a matter of finding who we have whoâs as good as Mr. Nealis, because there is nobody,â Levin said.
Levin studied economics at Princeton University and Stanford Business School.
âMy suspicion is that a lot of kids are taking it as a pre-business course, and the reality is that the application is a lot broader than that,â Levin said.Â
âYou look at decision-making thoughtfully.â
Weisâs background is in quantitative analysis, but âeconomics is really nothing more than applied mathematics,â Nealis said. âHe understands what Iâll call the economic way of thinking.â
âThereâs been a rather remarkable interest among the student body in economics. I like to think that the word has gotten out that itâs a great course. It prepares students for college and for their continuing educational endeavors, and it prepares them to be critical observers of the world around them.âÂ