Open-Door Policy for AP, IB: The Pros and the Cons

Thursday, June 28, 2007

We have asked readers, particularly students, what they thought about opening Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge courses to all who want to take them. Two students who will be seniors at Oakton High School had very different and interesting views:

Dear Extra Credit:

It is not a good idea for schools to disregard educational records and to open AP, IB or Cambridge courses to any student willing to do the hard work. What benefits do AP courses bring? Obviously, they prepare students for college, look great on college applications and allow students to knock off college credits if they pass the AP exams.

However, how could students who had been struggling to make decent grades in regular classes find solace in an AP class? They cannot. Such students would shrivel up and pray to a non-responsive God for a remedy. The only remedy would be to offer AP courses solely to the students who possess the capacity to excel in them. I believe that only those students with GPAs of 3.5 and above should be allowed to engage in the AP program. A minimum GPA requirement for AP classes would inspire students to maintain higher grades. Many smart students have the mind-set that they can simply slack off during their first two years of high school prior to displaying their capacity to excel in AP classes as upperclassmen. This mind-set would be altered if a 3.5 GPA would be required for admission into the elite AP program.

Students who cannot excel in AP classes become extremely stressed, and their entire education becomes a chore rather than an enlightened learning experience. They normally receive D's or F's for their final grades, and they do not pass the AP tests. Their AP experiences fall nothing short of an academic nightmare. Had they been excluded from participating in the AP program, most would continue earning decent grades and save themselves from the shock of the AP curriculum.

Open-door AP classes have certainly made my high school worse. Five students whom I know are failing their AP classes. Their states of mind exemplify those who are not capable of excelling as AP students. One friend of mine had earned a 3.0 GPA last year. Yet the stress of three AP classes has become overwhelming, and her GPA has plummeted to a 2.0. She has lost all of her previous educational enthusiasm, which has unfortunately been replaced with confusion, hopelessness and depression. How can we help these students who are searching for a new beginning? It is too late now. Yet we can prevent students from being devoured by unrelenting AP courses by eliminating the open-door policy.

Danny Raikin


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