Many schools today are pushing kids into AP courses at alarming rates. There could be several reasons for this trend. One reason may be because parents value that the AP class will somehow lower their college costs because their kids will not have to take that class in college...which isn’t fully true. Another reason may be schools are trying to “look better” in the eyes of rankings etc. I don’t want to get into the reason too much here. What I do want to ask is this…
“Would you expect a sprinter to be ready to run a marathon?”
The reason I ask that question is because the way schools are placing kids into AP classes without really preparing them correctly or really knowing them at all. I had a few students in my classes who had a card sent to them requesting they sign up for AP courses in the next semester. These kids aren’t the type of student who are ready for an AP course. I don’t say that disrespectfully here. These students have ideas, passions, and smarts in other areas. They are just not academic type students. I don’t think there is anything wrong with not being an academic type student. I wasn’t one.
My issue with this type of broad recruiting is that these students mentioned above lack some skills in time management, work ethic, and self awareness that is essential for succeeding in an AP class or any academic based course. Counseling departments feel the pressure to increase AP participation from upper administrators. These students in many cases are identified as “outliers” in AP courses. The thought is to put them in a class and see if it works out. To me there is a huge problem with this. Sure we are setting students up to fail, which I don’t think is a bad thing. Failing students will learn something ONLY IF WE REVIEW WHY. Unfortunately that is a huge missing factor in schools. In a case like this, the students will try out an AP course, fail or drop it, and never be looked at as an academic student from that point on in their high school career.
A better way to work this is to actually train the students how to manage their time, how to better prepare for the rigors of an AP course, and how to find help when they need it BEFORE and WHILE they go into this type of AP course. Essentially, the way it is now, we are expecting sprinters to be ready to run a marathon without training them. If we really think AP courses are that important, we should be training our students properly for them BEFORE we throw them into one.