April 25, 2013

Regarding Jay Mathews’s April 22 Education column, “Washington area is far ahead of Georgia district in way it treats motivated students”:

Mr. Mathews neglected rational reasons for schools making students jump through hoops before enrolling them in Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses. While some institutions may be concerned about keeping their test scores high, it also may be true that schools do not have the infrastructure, such as available teachers, to add more upper-level courses.

Teaching an AP class is no small feat, and success on the test is proportional to the abilities of the teachers. In addition, while Jacqueline Berthold, a student Mr. Mathews described, may have been prepared to hop into an AP course, many students are not, and their presence in the class can hurt the instruction, especially with an inexperienced teacher. Recommendations and essays force the student to demonstrate interest and at least give a forethought before diving into a college-level course.

Getting rid of barriers may solve one problem, but it may create larger ones in the process. I agree that we should encourage students to take difficult courses.It is also important that the schools and students be fully aware of and prepared for greater challenges.

Stephanie Coberly Pluta, Arlington