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Freedom of Classes: Issue or Not?

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Katie Wilson is done in by her AP classes

Katie Wilson is done in by her AP classes

Picture by Cody Wilson

Picture by Cody Wilson

Katie Wilson is done in by her AP classes

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   Here at Quartz Hill High, students are given a variety of classes to choose from that entail varying degrees of rigor. There are regular, Honors, AP (Advanced Placement), and IB (International Baccalaureate) classes. Each type of class offers a different level of academic advancement that is unique to itself. Each pathway has distinct characteristics that set it apart from the rest, and they each appeal to various students.

   However, the dynamics in Quartz Hill’s classrooms have changed due to the increase in amount of students taking higher-level classes. Honors classes are seen more often on schedules, AP classes are taken by an overwhelming amount of students, and IB kids are regarded as the elitists of the school (mostly by the IB students), making these advanced courses desired by all.

   Now, everyone is able to take whatever class they want, meaning anyone can take an AP, IB, or Honors class. This has raised quite a few eyebrows, and some say that it’s turning into an issue, arguing that everyone’s acceptance in said advanced classes has taken away the ‘advanced’ part of the program. Some believe that these kids are misplaced into harder classes, so they ultimately fail.  Others argue for the right of equal opportunity to be extended to each and every student, saying that they know what they are getting into when they sign up for such demanding classes.

   Discussing the issue, Mrs. DeGroff, the AP Art History and AP/IB English teacher, said, “It’s part of a new system the district has put in. It’s an ‘open field’ so to speak, meaning anyone can come and participate in any of the advanced classes. It’s part of a new program which is trying to give individuals equal opportunities. Now, we’ve got regular kids taking Advanced Placement classes, and various others taking way harder classes.”

   After providing an extensive background on the issue, Mrs. Horning, a parent and retired teacher commented, “Well, it wouldn’t be fair to everyone if only a few select kids got offered opportunities. But, at the same time, it wouldn’t be fair if those excellent kids got jostled out of the way to get a high-quality education with the influx of other, less-prepared students joining their classes.  It’s a very fine line.”

   Señora Reyes, the AP Spanish teacher, also voiced her opinions on the matter:  “Students are given the opportunity as a part of the ‘No Child Left Behind’ act, and I have seen it work both ways. I have seen students who have done very well, and I’ve also seen students who are really struggling. It all depends on what the student wants to do, how much effort they want to put in the class. I would suggest that students meet up over the summer, like one or two days, just so that they can get used to the rigor of an AP class.”

   However, the teachers and the counselors are working together to make sure that students aren’t doing any damage to their educations. When a teacher notices that a specific student is struggling or has low grades in the class, they mention it to the student’s counselor, who then monitors said student.  The counselor then has a one-on-one session with the student to find out the problem and to offer any assistance. This is an efficient way of making sure that all students are well-acclimated to their classes.

   Students have also voiced their perspectives as well. Anthony Valencia said, “Maybe there should be like a test to get in, something to judge whether or not you are qualified to join the class.” He believes it isn’t fair that both kids who deserve to be in a high-level English class and others who are unable to write even a paragraph are in that same advanced class. He explained, “The higher level kids aren’t being challenged, and the kids who don’t know how to write are only hurting themselves by not being taught properly.”

   It seems we will simply have to wait and see what our district comes up with regarding this issue. But, for now, Honors/AP/IB classes are open to any student with a desire to sign up for them.

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Freedom of Classes: Issue or Not?