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Letter to the Editor: AP classes used to boost GPAs

Saturday, January 10, 2009

To the editor:

Although most schools focus on problems with students who struggle to learn, there is a problem with Advanced Placement classes. These classes are intended to simulate university courses at the high school level, providing students with an opportunity to earn college credit. AP classes at Jackson High School are, in our experience, frequently used to boost grade-point averages. There is nothing wrong with wanting a high GPA, but this should be coupled with an interest in the subject and a desire to learn.

One cause of this problem is the counseling department. Students and parents, eager to improve chances of acceptance into a more prestigious university, jump at AP classes. Counselors allow unqualified and uninterested students into these classes. The result is the dampening of the AP courses' goals. Students who are qualified and interested suffer.

Attending a state university, we encounter students from St. Louis and Kansas City high schools. These schools have recognized the need to keep AP classes just that: advanced. These students enter college much better prepared.

An example of an AP class that lags behind its urban peers is the AP Government class at Jackson. Students flock to this class because of its easy reputation. Out of the 70-plus students enrolled in AP Government, only five or six opt to take the AP exam.

There are multiple reasons for our concern. It should not be only our concern, however. As Greek philosopher Diogenes Laertius said, "The foundation of every state is the education of its youth," which we shouldn't disillusion ourselves about.

IRA KING and CLINT POGUE, Cape Girardeau