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AP for Everyone?

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I was pretty surprised when I read this story in The Seattle Times about a school that will require all 10th graders to take at least one Advanced Placement class next year. While it seems like a good idea to encourage kids to take rigorous classes, is it really smart to require them to enroll in AP?

The article says that currently, about 40 percent of sophomores take the one AP course offered to them--European History. By the time the requirement goes into effect, that course will be changed to Human Geography. That means more than half the students in that grade will be required to take a course they normally wouldn't sign up for.

Are AP courses really appropriate for every single student in an entire grade? Or are administrators just setting some students up for failure? In my opinion, to do well in a class like this, the student has to want to do well. And if they are required to take the class, are they really going to have that desire?

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Actually, I think students have to "want to do well" in order to do well in any course, no matter what level of rigor it's at. And when a student doesn't want that, talented teachers may as well be trying to get the student to "want to do well" in the most rigorous class, rather than wanting them to "do well" in a dumbed-down course.

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