The Pel Mel

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Point/Counterpoint: Open Enrollment

Mason Brady, Senior

In a country that is founded on the principles of freedom, it makes sense that people would want to be able to choose the level of their education, and the courses they want for the future. As we continue to try to push the country to improve our education, as a whole, it is essential that all students have the option to choose the highest level of education available. In order to maintain the freedom that our country was founded on, help prepare children for the future, and continue to push our students to try things they wouldn’t normally consider, we must remain a school that offers open enrollment for our courses.

The requirements for being in a high level course are, in the end, very arbitrary. While it makes sense that receiving a high grade in a class will give some indication as to how well the student will do in an AP, this should not be looked at as a definitive way to prevent or allow someone to take an AP course. The teachers, parents, and the students themselves are the ones who should be able to gauge what a student will be able to do in a course. While one might argue this is the reason that a teacher recommendation should be required, in the end it should be up to the student whether or not they take a teacher’s advice, because in the end they know themselves better. If they are ready to take on more challenging coursework, then they should be the ones to decide. High school is meant to prepare students for college, so it makes sense that students should be able to take high level courses in order to get ready for the next big step in their lives. If someone is interested in Biology or the human body then they should be able to take AP Biology so that they can test the waters on whether or not they want to pursue that in college.

However, there are some that disagree with these ideas. In an article written by Teresa Watanabe for the LA Times, Watanabe said, “Some critics worry that the open-access movement is pushing too many unprepared students into AP classes.” Besides what some studies have said on the effect of this workload on students, the College Board, the nonprofit organization that runs AP Exams, declared open enrollment to be a success. Only marginally more students have failed the AP. This is a huge success because more students are able to challenge themselves without there being lower level students dragging them down and lowering the expectations of the exam. As a USC article notes, “Over the last 10 years, AP enrollment has doubled across the country and failure rates have only seen a marginal increase. Far more students—20 percent to be exact—pass the exams than fail.” Considering that it is in the best interest of the College Board for their exams to be successful without high failing rates they should be considered a trustworthy source for whether or not we should have open enrollment.

At the end of the day, are we not trying to push students to achieve the highest level of success that they possibly can? This is not to be confused with overloading one’s course load, as that can lead to stress and a drop in performance across the board. However, if a student feels up to the challenge, then they should get used to the workload that they will face in life and better prepare themselves for the future.

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The School Newspaper of Pelham Memorial High School
Point/Counterpoint: Open Enrollment