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QUESTIONING AP

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Even as their enrollment numbers soar--and their influence grows--AP courses seem to be coming under growing scrutiny lately. The workload is impressive, sure, but is this really the most constructive approach to secondary education? In this vein, Dan McDowell of A History Teacher offers a thoughtful post on the internal dilemmas of an AP teacher. A number of the students in his AP World History class are already “feeling the strain,” he says, and this has got him thinking about the pressures facing students today and his own role in reinforcing the framework of meritocracy.

On one level, I feel bad. I encourage them, I have laid out the stakes (college entrance, college credit), but that is not enough. My words do not make the reality any easier. ... In the end, I am faced with the current reality of the situation. If I let up on the students, I lessen their chance of succeeding on the AP exam, if I keep it up, some will probably burn out and quit. Is this the point, those who can't won't? Or should we try and accommodate everyone?

The comments to McDowell’s post suggest that he’s not the only teacher wondering about such things.

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It is a struggle, but since I now have kids trying to get into my APUSH class, even though we are more than a month into the school year, I figure that AP must have some sort of allure, hard work or not.

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