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By Jay Mathews
Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dear Extra Credit Readers:

Advanced Placement English teacher Allison Beers asked her 11th-grade students at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Prince George's County to critique my annual rankings, in The Washington Post and Newsweek, of public high schools. I use the Challenge Index, a measure of participation in AP and other college-level tests. Here are excerpts of comments from several students, with some comments from me:

Dear Extra Credit:

My parents admit that when they were in high school, they didn't learn the stuff my teachers are shoving down my throat, and yet they still have this inane expectation for me to get extremely good grades. They've bought into the idea that AP classes equal gold. . . . Whether I will do well in the subject or not, I and my fellow students are expected to take these classes. And why? So that Eleanor Roosevelt High School can get an even higher rating?

Hanna Yangilmau

Ask your parents that question. I suspect they will tell you they don't care about the high school's rating. They care about you getting ready for college. At the beginning of the last century, students complained that their parents pushed them to go to high school, something their parents had not been able to do. In this country, expectations increase every generation, one reason why so many people want to come here.


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