AP Classes Only For Those Who Belong There

Zach Wichter


Taking AP classes is an honor generally reserved for only the highest-raking students in the associated subject area. However, as schools vie to boost their ratings, this honor becomes a mandate to almost every student taking the subject.  The problem? Newsweek bases its formula for high school rankings on the number of students who take the AP test – not those who pass it. This is a very unfair rating system, and leads to students struggling in AP classes, when they could excel in a regular class.

Now, I’m not saying that there are no benefits to having non-traditional AP students taking AP classes, but really, they are few and far between, and are far outweighed by the problems. If there are students in AP classes who are having difficulty keeping up, the intensity of the class decreases by default as the teacher tries to help them. This is unfair to both the students having a hard time – they may not belong in such a challenging course – and also to the students who do belong there, because they should be challenged to their fullest ability – that’s the purpose of an AP course.

Students who may not be able to handle AP courses might often feel pressured to take them. However, if the pressures put on them were relaxed, it would benefit all students. Rather than regular classes being robbed of top students, they would have a few students who care enough about the subject area to excel, but not the grades to do well in an AP class. With such students in regular classes, passion would return, making the teachers’ jobs easier, making the class more interesting, and possibly even raising the bar for students who normally struggle in regular classes.  In the words of a classic cliché, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”