Eduwonk guest blogger Michael Goldstein of MATCH charter school disagrees with a column by teacher Patrick Welsh, who thinks too many non-advanced students are being urged to take AP courses, forcing teachers to water down the curriculum.
“It’s better for a child to have a great teacher in a regular course than a poor teacher in an AP course,” Welsh writes. C’mon, great rhetoric but that’s not the issue. Most of us would take a great teacher in ANY course over a poor one in our favorite subject. The real question is whether it is better for a kid to have a decent teacher in, say, a regular English 12 course where he can definitely coast, or a more rigorous AP English course where he’ll struggle, complain, get frustrated, perhaps study all weekend and pull a C- on a test, write twice as many essays, and read three times as many books.
Welsh’s answer is: stick with the easy course kid and stay out of the way of the really promising students. Kids coaxed into AP probably don’t have the skills and motivation to succeed. And they’ll fail in higher numbers. This is all bad.
. . . is trying and failing bad as Welsh contends? In fact, the College Board has data showing that even students who score a 1 or 2 on the AP test (too low to earn college credit) are more likely to succeed in college than kids who don’t take AP at all.
MATCH, which educates low-income minority students, works very hard to make sure that their students have a shot at passing AP courses.
Jenny D has more.
Someone makes that decision to make a course easier, to offer less demanding work, and to let students get away with doing less. Well, who is it?
Is it possibly the teachers themselves? They look around the room, decide kids can’t cut it, and water down the curriculum? Why are they doing that? Why don’t they stick to the tough academic work and let the students sink or swim? How do they know that all these kids can’t hack it? Or do the teachers themselves sabotage the opportunity to for more strenuous learning among larger groups of kids?
Read the comments too.
I think most students are capable of much more than they achieve; they haven’t been challenged till they try an AP course. Some kids will do far more than they would in a regular course, even if they don’t do well enough to earn college credit via the AP exam. Those who can’t handle the work can transfer before they earn a D or F.