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I’m Right… Get Over It

Also in yesterday’s Post, Jay Mathews informed a group of parents here in the overly-large school district that he’s right, they’re wrong, end of story.

They want schools to preserve choices for their kids by maintaining the “the three-track system–basic, honors and AP/IB– in the county’s high schools” while Mathews proclaims “honors courses for all”.

However, as always, he is working from several flawed assumptions.

One is that it is a “well-researched fact that these days every student needs at least a college-prep curriculum” – with his “well-researched” link going to another of his columns about one report from Education Week backing his side of the discussion.

Certainly almost every high school graduate needs some kind of post-K12 education, but for many students there are better options than traditional four-year college program, and they need to understand those alternatives and the best way to prepare for them.

Another of Mathews beliefs is that every student will benefit from simply taking AP (or other college-level courses) in high school.  Never mind how they actually do in the class.  Just disregard whether they have the background, capability, or interest in the subject.

But does the talented writer really need Calculus, when a good understanding of basic mathematical concepts, including statistics, would serve them better? Would some students be better served with practical classes in mechanical engineering, rather than four years of laboratory sciences?

Finally, Mathews continues to assume that the AP program, an inflexible and unrelated set of courses designed to fit the traditional college model, offers the only possible solution to provide students with a good high school education.

And there’s no possibility that he could be wrong.


  1. Schledorn

    The assumption that lower level students (those who don’t read on grade level, ESL, etc) can “rise to the challenge” and succeed in honors courses is just a theory. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that some students can grow by being placed in an honor class, but there is just as much anecdotal evidence evidence that many students fall further behind because of it.

    What happens when a student with a 6th grade reading level takes an honors Civics class (10th grade in my state)? Does the student struggle and fail? Does the teacher spend more time modifying assignments for that student, effectively watering down the honors class? Does the teacher reduce the difficulty for the entire class? This “honors for all” theory is nothing more than untested experimentation on lower level students, which is the last thing they need.

  2. Robin

    I was always worried about the kid in my physics class who couldn’t balance a checkbook.

    It’s very fashionable these days to treat students as if they are all the same … learning robots.

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