ART BY MEGAN LIEN
By SARAH CHUN STAFF WRITER
Should challenging classes try to AP-peal to all students as they do? I-Believe not.
Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and other rigorous courses are available to high school students across the United States with aspirations of a bright future. These classes challenge and push students’ academic abilities to the limit, and are therefore meant for advanced students. Succeeding in these courses increases a student’s chance of being accepted into a prestigious university, and can even earn them college general education credits.
Despite the benefits that AP and equivalent high-achieving courses may provide, its lack of appropriate prerequisites contradict the purpose of these classes. Because of the inadequate standards that students must meet to take the courses, teachers slow down lessons, resulting in students not being able to reach their full potential, leading to insufficient preparation for the AP exams at the end of the year.
To begin, the requirements for taking AP and other equivalent classes are inadequate compared to the rigor of these classes. Typically, students are expected to achieve a B in honors-level courses to be eligible for college-level classes. This is a very simple prerequisite; as opposed to honors and regular level courses, AP classes expect students to perform at the collegiate level. Merely passing a lower level course is fit for graduation, but is not nearly enough to determine if a student has the ability to succeed in a higher level class.
As a result of a lack of standards for students enrolling in rigorous courses, students are deprived of a good education. Some students are in classes they can not keep up in: classwork, homework, and ultimately, the challenge of tests, leading to failing the class. In fear of this, some teachers slow their lessons down in order to accommodate to these students’ needs. Consequently, higher-achieving students are at a loss.
Many students take AP/IB classes to prosper academically, but when the course is slowed down, the purpose of taking rigorous courses is defeated, with excelling students having no room to be challenged. Because of a lack of up-to-level prerequisites, students often underestimate the rigor and course load of AP classes.
For example, I personally experience a loss of my educational opportunities due to the rift in academic abilities in my classes. While some students enter AP classes performing at collegiate level, other students start the class barely knowing the foundation for the subject. The teacher has to then back track and go over the basics for the students that lack the knowledge needed, in turn slowing down the entire curriculum.
Others may argue that AP/IB classes should be an opportunity for all students to put their academic abilities to the test, and should not be based on their performance in previous years. However, it is unfair to allow a few students to delay the curriculum for others due to their individual shortcomings. In order to provide a fair opportunity to all students while ensuring one’s capability to do well in a class, schools should change their judgements of students.
Rather than looking at a student’s letter grade, teachers should recommend classes based on their performance, considering the classes the student has in mind. For example, if a student wishes to take AP Biology or AP Chemistry, his or her eligibility for these classes should be determined by his or her teachers’ observations of the student’s performance in laboratories and coursework. Similarly, a student’s eligibility for AP English Language should not be decided by grades from his or her’s prior English courses, but rather by whether the student’s writing and analytical ability is up to standard with entry-level college students.
Because lower expectations for students slow down lesson plans, students are not prepared for the AP/IB exams at the end of the school year. Teachers slowing down their lessons ultimately hurt the students because they do not have time to cover the entire course material, leaving students a neglect of knowledge, which is required to be successful on these summative exams. If teachers do not consider their students’ performance level in creating lesson plans, students have no time to absorb the material and retain the information for the AP exam.
In modern society, more people have fresh new ideas to improve our changing world. It’s time that we see some educational reform.