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D203 Board of Education approves major changes to science course pathway

Honors Biology cut in favor of AP Biology, freshman options expanded for 2025-26 school year
Science+teacher+Paige+Lundquist+leads+her+third+period+Honors+Biology+class+on+May+10.
Jake Pfeiffer
Science teacher Paige Lundquist leads her third period Honors Biology class on May 10.

District 203’s Board of Education approved the removal of Honors Biology from both Naperville Central and Naperville North’s course offerings on April 15. The change will begin in the 2025-2026 school year, making AP Biology the advanced option for sophomore students.

This removal was part of a broader course proposal presented to the board on April 1, which allows freshmen to take Biology, Chemistry or Honors Chemistry as a freshman. 

Sophomores will have access to all three of these courses, as well as AP Biology, Physics and AP Physics 1.

“The thought was that because [Honors and AP] are both Biology and they are covering the same content, students would be able to cover that same information at that higher level rather than having the experience of Honors Bio first,” said Paige Lundquist, who teaches Biology and Honors Biology at Central. 

Coming with this change are revised curricula for each chemistry, biology and physics class at Central and North.

“The shift in Honors Biology and AP Biology is also coinciding with shifts in curriculum in Biology and Chemistry. Physics and Honors Chemistry,” Science Department Chair Dan Olandese said. “All of those classes are undergoing a change in their curriculum.”

According to the proposal submitted to the Board of Education, “The D203 honors biology curriculum is in line with a re-AP level of difficulty.” Additionally, the proposal states that “the level of rigor in terms of content knowledge is comparable to AP Biology, and both classes require Chemistry as a prerequisite.”

Jake Pfeiffer

With science classes at Central being traditionally based on grade level (freshmen in chemistry, sophomores in biology, juniors in physics or another elective), this move focuses more on a student’s academic interests and ability.

“The shift that we would like is to allow students to make choices of class based on academic readiness, as opposed to age,” Olandese said. “I like the idea that they can make the most honest assessment of where they want to go.”

Junior Sabrina Tse took AP Biology last year as a sophomore, and was the only sophomore in the class at the time. 

“There would be times where I didn’t know what was going on, because other people did have more of a base because they had taken Honors Bio, but it wasn’t so hard that it was unmanageable,” Tse said. “So I think honestly, if you had more people coming in [as sophomores], it would end up being an easier experience.”

Even though several students like Tse have taken the class as sophomores, the change still brings some concerns about sophomores making the jump to an AP lab science course that has traditionally been taken by mostly upperclassmen. 

“I really feel like in Honors Bio, you know, it’s not a ‘baby bio,’ but it’s not AP-level,” Lundquist said. “Being one year older as a junior or two years older as a senior taking that AP-level course, your brain is just functioning at a higher level, so you’re able to kind of process that information.”

For Tse, this change raises questions about the reasoning for both the original and the updated course sequences.

“There must have been a reason originally why AP Bio was not the automatic course,” Tse said. “I don’t know what that was, but it’s probably important to consider because otherwise, if this was like the clear cut move, they probably would have done it before.”

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About the Contributors
Nolan Shen
Nolan Shen, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Nolan is a senior, entering his third year on staff. He is excited to be heading the Arts and Entertainment section this year. When not writing for CT, he can be found playing with the Marching Redhawks Drumline, performing in the Naperville Youth Symphony, eating too much McDonald’s, and watching bad sci-fi movies. Next year, he plans on going to college to study political science and hopefully not flunk out.
Jake Pfeiffer
Jake Pfeiffer, Editor-in-Chief
Jake Pfeiffer is a senior, entering his third year on the Central Times staff, this time as Editor-in-Chief. Jake joined CT as a sophomore because he wanted to write news, but since then he has grown to love just about every element of journalism. While it is rare to see Jake anywhere other than the CT office, occasionally you can find him captaining Central’s debate team, watching baseball, listening to a seemingly endless amount of podcasts or drowning in college applications.
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