As a distinguished international American school, ASL has always prized its forerunning education, sending students to the most prestigious and the most recognized universities worldwide. As can be expected though, a climate of competition has arisen as more students have gone on to Ivy League schools and other exemplary tertiary educational institutions. This climate has created an environment that not only worships academic excellence, but makes it a necessity, supplanting a passion for learning with a desire to outdo. Advanced Placement (AP) courses have become, not a distinction of academic excellence, but a tradition: It doesn’t look good to take APs anymore, it looks bad not to.The competitive, and sometimes strangling, academic rigor at ASL has forced many students into the AP system for fear of the stigma that many APs equates to better candidacy. APs have become a way to a better college rather than to a better education, as students have been grappling with numerous AP classes without a passionate drive that panders to those specific classes.
This is not being condemned, in fact, this Editorial Board lauds the endeavor for diverse academic excellence. But this is what we want to expound upon: A level of diversity. Pursuing excellence sends students right into the AP curricula, which can often be limiting due to its lack of breadth. Courses that have appealed to a specific minority – such as Astronomy, Global Issues, and Contemporary History – but are nonetheless key in a modern education have been bogged down in the other side of the AP stigma: Because they do not carry the AP label, they automatically, and erroneously, become secondary classes – classes students take to fulfill graduation requirements.
For this reason, The Standard’s Editorial Board would advocate the gradual implementation of Honors courses coupled with the gradual removal of AP classes.
This Honors program would be of the same rigor as an AP course but would not be tailored towards preparing students for yet another standardized test. Instead, teachers impassioned by a certain subject would come together and create a general sense of conformity regarding grading policy and curriculum – one recognized by universities –, but still have the flexibility to hone in on what specifics they deem important, all the while teaching in the style they prefer. Teachers wouldn’t have to teach things just because it’s on an exam and they would have an extra month (the one which follows AP testing) to use at their discretion.
The stock for AP classes is slowly but surely on the decline. Some of the United States’ most prestigious high schools, like Riverdale Country Day and Phillips Academy Andover have already abolished AP classes from their curriculum. Likewise, prestigious universities like Dartmouth no longer accept AP scores as credits, with more institutions set to follow suit in the near future.
To the best of our knowledge, the school has the reputation and academic rigor to implement an Honors course system that would be just as challenging and be viewed with the same respect of AP courses by universities. With this factor, reform shouldn’t have any impact on whether or not our students are accepted into their university of choice.
We have some of the best faculty in the world to teach these new courses. We have some of the best curriculum administrators to implement this new program, and we have some of the best college counsellors to quell any concerns that may arise. The only thing holding us back, now, is a fear of change.