Unlimited Access. Try it Today! Your First 10 Days Always $0.99
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 © 2015, 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.

  • Sun takes advantage of grieving father
    Sun takes advantage of grieving father

    In response to the front page article regarding the terrible fire in Waverly which claimed the life of 3-year-old Azyrie Williams ("Girl, 3, dies in fire at house," March 30), my sincere condolences go out to her family for their loss.

  • Left-wing opinion keeps creeping into Sun “news” articles
    Left-wing opinion keeps creeping into Sun “news” articles

    Another example of left wing media bias appeared in the Sunday Sun in what was a news article. Not opinion, not commentary. In the news article from the Washington Post headlined "Congress circumventing defense cuts it legislated," reporter Walter Pincus writes that the "supercommittee"...

  • O'Malley knows coronations
    O'Malley knows coronations

    The report that former Gov. Martin O'Malley doesn't want Hillary Clinton "coronated" shows just how clueless he is ("O'Malley: Democrats shouldn't coronate Hillary Clinton," March 29). Wasn't Anthony Brown "coronated" by Mr. O'Malley to be our next governor? He should have asked the voters...

  • School construction needs are questionable
    School construction needs are questionable

    The Sun recently reported that the General Assembly is authorizing $20 million for school construction in addition to Gov. Larry Hogan's budget of over $200 million for school-related building and renovations ("Assembly proposes more school construction aid for counties," March 27).

Comments
Loading