Save 75% - Only $49.99 for 1 full year! digitalPLUS subscription offer ends 12/1
NewsOpinionReaders Respond

Advanced Placement isn't for everyone

High SchoolsSchools

As long-time advocates for public education in Baltimore County, we felt compelled to respond to letter writer Harry J. Cook's view of the Advanced Placement exams ("A different perspective on AP courses Sept. 6).

While we're grateful that magnet schools such as Eastern Technical High School offer quality programs, it's unrealistic to compare this selective, quasi-private school with most county comprehensive high schools.

Despite its name, Eastern Tech is far from the vocational-technical school of old. Its pre-engineering, pre-law and technology programs are designed for highly motivated, capable students and require a rigorous application and assessment process.

The factors considered for acceptance at Eastern Tech — and for being asked to leave — are past academic performance, attendance and disciplinary records. When students withdraw, they enroll in their local high school, which must educate all students irrespective of ability or performance. Naturally, Eastern Tech would outperform typical high schools in AP course work and testing.

When unsuspecting and unprepared students are forced to shoulder advanced course work, the results can be disastrous, as Liz Bowie outlined in her excellent article. Students often "check out," and their GPAs, self-esteem and confidence plummet. Even top-notch students suffer under the pressures of our rigor-at-all-costs culture, with its unintended outcomes of stress, sleep deprivation, physical and mental illness and cheating.

At present, the College Board recommends students for AP based solely on PSAT scores, purportedly "strong predictors" of AP exam scores. This impersonal and incomplete approach does not consider students' maturity, study habits, organizational and time-management skills or extracurricular activities.

Beyond the College Board's marketing propaganda, many students are forced into AP course work when traditional course choices in gifted and talented, honors and standard programs are eliminated — a strategy many schools use to increase AP enrollment.

Differentiated levels of instruction allow all students to craft schedules suited to their individual strengths, interests and time constraints. Increasing AP participation rates must be done judiciously.

Mary Ellen Pease, Leslie Weber and Glen Thomas, Baltimore

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
High SchoolsSchools
  • County schools set up kids to fail

    In her investigative report on the results of Maryland's expansion of student participation in the College Board's Advanced Placement program, Liz Bowie presented a comprehensive picture of the failure of this initiative to fulfill its promise. To the contrary, "it has not delivered vast...

  • The Hollywood version of Advanced Placement
    The Hollywood version of Advanced Placement

    Sometimes Hollywood is good at weaving myths that tap into our society’s common narrative of the American dream.

  • 'Rain tax' not optional
    'Rain tax' not optional

    The recent sub-headline on the editorial regarding the "rain tax" was patently false ("The bogus 'rain tax' repeal," Nov. 23).

  • How can Ehrlich relish suffering of others?
    How can Ehrlich relish suffering of others?

    It saddens me to see the former congressman and governor of Maryland salivating with anticipation at the thought of depriving millions of Americans of decent health insurance by rolling back the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare is a varsity stinker," Nov. 23).

  • On 'rain tax,' Hogan has the right idea
    On 'rain tax,' Hogan has the right idea

    The Sun really doesn't get it! Larry Hogan is "repealing" the "rain tax" because it is emblematic of the over-taxing of our state's residents ("The bogus 'rain tax' repeal," Nov. 24). You can engage in all the legalistic finger-wagging you care to, but the people of this state are not impressed...

  • Farrakhan should pipe down
    Farrakhan should pipe down

    Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan needs to shut his pie hole ("Speaking at Morgan, Farrakhan predicts violence in Ferguson," Nov. 22). Mr. Farrakhan's modus operandi is to instill hatred aimed at Caucasians and Jews into his rants. What he has done, in effect, is to set the race...

Comments
Loading