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Jay Mathews, Education Columnist
About the Author
 Jay Mathews, a Washington Post education reporter, writes a weekly Class Struggle column exclusively for He also covers school issues in a quarterly column for The Post Magazine. He can be reached via e-mail at
More From Jay Mathews
 Extra Credit: Jay answers a reader question each week -- or maybe two or three if they are easy ones. Recent Extra Credit columns:
 Contributors (The Washington Post, 4/21/05)
 A 'Magnet' Is Not the Only Route to Excellence (The Washington Post, 4/14/05)
 Even Top Schools Can Fall Short Under 'No Child Left Behind' (The Washington Post, 4/14/05)
Education Spotlight
 School of Hard Choices: In the KIPP Academy program, it's motivation that's fundamental.
Challenge Index
 Special Report: Reporter Jay Mathews compares how hard Washington area schools are trying to prepare their students for college.
 Full Results
A Few Lucky Students Who Don't Need AP
Three months ago I read a commentary in the newspaper Education Week and wondered why I heard a grinding sound. It turned out to be my back molars, scraping together in a way my dentist has complained about many times. The reason for my obvious tension was a commentary, "On Dropping AP Courses: A Voice from the Developing Movement," [Jan. 19 issue] by Bruce G. Hammond, director of college counseling at Sandia Preparatory School in Albuquerque, N.M.

Other Recent Columns
When All the Fourth-Grade Teachers Quit (, April 12, 2005; 10:43 AM)

Intelligent Design, Unintelligent Me (, April 5, 2005; 12:15 PM)

Assessing the KIPP Schools -- a New Perspective (, March 29, 2005; 11:11 AM)

Why Don't We Fix Our Textbooks? (, March 22, 2005; 10:00 AM)

A Feverish Reaction to Teenage Drinking (, March 15, 2005; 10:27 AM)

'You Can't Make Me Earn the Diploma' (, March 8, 2005; 12:18 PM)

How to Ace the SAT Essay in 6 Easy Steps (, March 1, 2005; 10:00 AM)

Critic Responds on the AP Debate (, Feb. 22, 2005; 10:21 AM)

College vs. AP -- the Backlash (, Feb. 16, 2005; 12:43 PM)

Learning for a Better Life, Not Just a Better Job (, Feb. 8, 2005; 10:45 AM)

How to Pick a College That Cares if You Graduate (, Feb. 1, 2005; 10:10 AM)

Quotas for Asian Americans? Yes and No (, Jan. 25, 2005; 10:12 AM)

Seven Reasons NOT to Fear the New SAT (, Jan. 18, 2005; 10:22 AM)

Round 2: College Courses vs. AP Tests (, Jan. 11, 2005)

Our 26 Most Dangerous Schools and Other Fables (, Jan. 4, 2005)

Are Bonus Grade Points for Hard Courses Unfair? (, Dec. 27, 2004; 9:51 AM)

College Financial Aid for Dummies (Like Me) (, Dec. 21, 2004; 12:36 PM)

Why Colleges Think They're Better Than AP (, Dec. 14, 2004; 12:27 PM)

Six Surprises From Challenging High Schools (, Dec. 7, 2004; 9:50 AM)

More Stories

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