Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.
News Opinion Readers Respond

Advanced Placement isn't for everyone

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
  • 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.

  • Who cares what the CIA does to terrorists?
    Who cares what the CIA does to terrorists?

    Am I living in the Twilight Zone? It sure seem so when I read some of the liberal nonsense being regurgitated in The Sun concerning the Senate Democrats' release of their CIA report on torture ("Holding the CIA to account," Dec. 9).

  • What's the bang for our health exchange buck?
    What's the bang for our health exchange buck?

    The article, "Health exchange enrolls over 100,000 people" (Dec. 17), was informative, and I hope reporter Meredith Cohn has a follow up.

  • Marching for McKenzie
    Marching for McKenzie

    Here's a thought: Why don't the people who believe there's social injustice and have the time to demonstrate hold a march on the 3600 block of Old York Road to protest the neighbors who aren't coming forth to identify those who shot and killed 3-year-old McKenzie Elliott earlier this year...

  • Taliban misrepresents Islam
    Taliban misrepresents Islam

    What possible crime could a young student have committed that he or she deserves death? Can't think of any, right? This is what was going through the minds of horror stricken parents in Peshawar, Pakistan ("Horror in Peshawar," Dec. 16).

Comments
Loading