Friday, March 30, 2007

Don't let AP fade away from your school!

Of all the news and opinions swirling around right now, I hope this one doesn't get lost in the noise.

The Lansing State Journal did a fantastic piece encouraging students to take Advanced Placement Classes.

LSJ: Join Class: Lansing students, parents need to bolster advanced classes (03/26/07)

The motivation for the article is disturbing. The district is considering the elimination of some AP classes due to budget woes. The "news and opinions swirling around right now" can explain why they have their woes.

Budget woes aside, this is an article that should run annually. Michigan is in the bottom half of the country for AP Exam participation, ranking 29th in the nation. We trail Alaska, New Mexico, and Arkansas.

AP classes are hard, but that is exactly the reason kids need to take them. They need to be prepared for the challenges that await them in college. Learning this lesson early can help to keep them from getting discouraged in college, and dropping out.

I believe every college-bound student should be taking at least one AP class during their high school career. Authorities recommend that serious college-bound students should be taking five, starting as early as their sophomore year.

I'm sure that recommendation will raise some eyebrows in Michigan. However, it's just as likely to be getting nods from many educators in other states. Some of the top performing states in the nation are putting three times as many of their children through AP classes.

You can read other my my blogs on AP by looking in the BLOG TOPICS, or by clicking here.

I put together a 2005-06 study on AP Participation in Michigan, which can be found by clicking here.

I've pasted the article below in case the link doesn't work.

==> Mike.

Join class: Lansing students, parents need to bolster advanced classes
A Lansing State Journal editorial

Lansing School District students and their parents have an important opportunity to boost enrollment in their Advanced Placement classes.

Advanced Placement classes provide college-level work in the high school setting. Students who complete AP work successfully often can get the credits recognized by a college, saving them money and jump-starting their higher education.

In addition, the rigorous course work can prepare them for the higher expectations of college.

Lansing schools offer 24 Advanced Placement classes at three high schools, an impressive number. But in tight financial times, the district must watch expenses and is reviewing enrollment for those classes. Beginning next year, they will require a minimum of 25 students enrolled to offer an AP course, up from 20 students this year. About half the courses offered this year wouldn't have made that cut-off.

To its credit, the district is pursuing options for its most ambitious students. Officials say some AP classes may be offered online, or via video conferencing.

And don't forget that students can attend Eastern High to pursue an international baccalaureate program instead of, or in addition to, AP course work.

Lansing is not alone in facing fiscal challenges; area suburban districts have had to find new approaches for Advanced Placement offerings as well. This is not a situation that reflects poorly on Lansing schools.

But there is an additional perspective for students and their parents to consider.

Recently politicians and policy-makers have cited a startling fact: The lifetime earnings of a college graduate will be $1 million more than those of a person who did not attend college.

This is a golden opportunity. To offer the maximum number of AP courses, the district needs the maximum number of students to sign up. Yet it seems quite likely there are capable students - college-bound students - who don't sign up because they are intimidated by the amount or difficulty of AP course work.

The new economy requires everyone to push toward a higher level. Doug Stites of Capital Area Michigan Works is among community leaders working on the "Keep Learning ... Our Future Depends on It" campaign. Among his suggestions: That everyone strive to climb one level higher in education. High school grads need to pursue college; those with a bachelor's degree need to pursue a master's, and so on.

Signing up for an AP course in high school can be a step on that lifelong path to learning. Parents should urge their students to consider that when making class choices.

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