To the Editor:
To paraphrase the first sentence of your July 27, 2005, article “To Maintain Rigor, College Board to Audit All AP Courses,” as more high schools rush to offer Advanced Placement courses, the No Child Left Behind Act counteracts the effects. This federal law’s emphasis on remediation denies strong students access to challenging coursework.
AP courses prepare students for future success, can give them college credit, and may qualify them for honors programs with preferential course selection. All these factors facilitate graduation from college in four or five years.
The No Child Left Behind law is detrimental to college preparation. The two-part study of accelerated learning funded by the Templeton Foundation, “A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students,” shows that advanced-level coursework is being sacrificed as test-prep demands rise and school resources fall. According to my local paper, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio schools are eliminating AP and honors courses to focus their resources on students at risk of failing the state’s graduation test.
Though you report that the number of public schools offering AP courses rose slightly in 2004, how many will drop them in 2005? How many students take AP exams? Such testing is not mandatory because of the tests’ cost.
It seems that there is plenty of money for remediation, but no subsidy for the pursuit of excellence. Wouldn’t it be better if we provided public secondary schools with the resources for rigorous AP courses and supported public colleges? Then all our children would have the chance for success they deserve.
Betty Raskoff Kazmin
Retired Los Angeles Teacher
A version of this article appeared in the August 10, 2005 edition of Education Week as To Accelerate Learning, Or to Equalize It?