Students in high school have a great many options in terms of pursuing the types of coursework they want. Many districts offer Magnet Programs that provide enhanced education in specific fields (Arts, Technology) which students are keen on pursuing in the future. Other schools have adopted the International Baccalaureate Program, which has become highly popular, for its emphasis on independent, globally-minded inquiry. There is also Advanced Placement courses, a traditional mainstay of high school enhanced curriculum.
There was recently an interesting news brief on the current state of Advanced Placement (AP) in American public education. The piece stated that 1 in 3 American high schoolers, in public schools, took an Advanced Placement Exam in 2012. Of that 33% of high schoolers, 1 in 5 received a passing grade on the exam. These are really quite impressive numbers.
First, a third of American, publicly educated students are seeking advanced academics in high school – presumably, on their own accord, though with the support of their family and teachers. Second, the opportunity to pursue serious work in American schools is available, and with knowledge of what is out there, students have real opportunities. One third of students are certain enough, during high school, that academic achievement is really important and that the work they put in during high school will pay off in college.
And, it will. A passing grade on an AP Exam is worth a credit at most colleges, amounting to a significant savings in time and money. The time spent in high school, can be a huge advantage in college – and kids realize this. Importantly, Advanced Placement is a broad endeavor, and covers subjects from Math to English to the Arts with many specialties in between. There were 34 different subject exams given most recently, signifying the breadth and depth the program has reached – after all, this is a high school program with 34 college level course options.
There is a strong push for academic excellence in American education. Students are clearly getting the message, and this is a great thing. For the two-thirds of students who are not in an AP program, that’s just fine. The push towards academic excellence and academic rigor encompasses students who are interested in pursuing different types of programs. All the students are pushing themselves towards the goals that will ensure a fulfilling future, and that is as much a goal of public education as is excellence.
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