Failed promise of AP

As a parent of two graduates of Baltimore County high schools, I wholeheartedly agree with everything letter writer George W. Nellies says about Maryland's expansion of College Board Advanced Placement exams ("County schools set up kids to fail," Aug. 25).

The high school my children attended regularly made the Newsweek list of "best high schools" because it pushed students who didn't belong into Advanced Placement classes. But most of those students did not pass the tests, which I found frustrating.

This environment did not serve the students who truly were ready for a rigorous, fast-paced class and more sophisticated discussion. Nor did it serve those who were not ready and were set up to be deeply disappointed when they received their exam grades of 1s and 2s.

I also observed that some of the teachers had the skills and background to teach a college-level course, while others, often younger and less experienced, were pushed into it without being adequately prepared. All this fosters an attitude of cynicism among students about what AP means.

I would only add to Mr. Nellies' list of "culprits" the fact that behind the promotion of Advanced Placement is a lucrative for-profit testing industry, including the College Board and exam prep services such as Kaplan and Princeton Review.

Mr. Nellies points out that Newsweek's high-school ranking system weights participation in AP exams unreasonably heavily. Could that have some relation to the fact that Newsweek and Kaplan, one of the giant test prep services, are part of the same corporate entity, and that Newsweek has a vested interest in promoting the proliferation of tests that in turn drive business to Kaplan?

It would be very interesting if The Sun would next have its investigative reporters follow the money and see who is profiting.

Helen Glazer Marcus, Owings Mills

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