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Advanced Placement Needs an Overhaul

June 30, 2002

Re "AP Courses That Look Good--on Paper," June 25:

The article highlights only some of the failures of the Advanced Placement system. There is competitive pressure on high schools to offer an array of AP classes but not enough qualified teachers to teach them. There is pressure on students to take these classes to "pad" their college applications but not enough are qualified to take these college level offerings.

Also, because AP classes are weighted, there is pressure on students to take classes they have no interest in just to raise their grade-point averages. The AP program needs an overhaul.

Remove the weighting so there are no benefits beyond a student's intrinsic interest in exploring the subject in more depth. Offer classes only when a qualified teacher who enjoys the subject is available, rather than "assigning" teachers. Encourage students to explore advanced course work in areas in which they have an interest so they will do the necessary coursework. Discourage those who do not have the fundamentals and work ethic to perform at a college level.

Return the AP high school program to its original purpose--to give eager students the opportunity to explore the subjects offered by teachers who are passionate and knowledgeable about that subject, with the only goal, knowledge. What a novel idea!

Betty Jo Atnip

Coto de Caza

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