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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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February 27, 2004

Swapping responsibilities

USA Today ran a story today that highlights an increasingly destructive problem in high schools and colleges: high schools are jumping ahead to teach college-level courses, while colleges must stoop to teach remedial-level courses that high schools didn't get right the first time.

The fastest growing classes in high school are Advanced Placement (AP) classes, while the fastest growing courses in college are remedial math and English courses. In the past 10 years, students taking AP exams has risen from 400,000 to more than 1 million. Meanwhile, just over half of college students in the nation take at least one remedial course.

Probably not a direct correlation but nonetheless interesting--and expensive. Remedial courses cost colleges about $2 billion a year, and students have to pay tuition for the courses but get no college credit.

Poor preparation for college-level courses in high school is the main reason why fewer than half of those entering college graduate, a recent report shows.

Shouldn't we hammer the basics first, before pressuring students to take AP courses? I'm actually a fan of AP courses, but let's make sure students have the foundation first before we rush them into college-level courses.

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Posted by Colleen Pohlig at February 27, 2004 10:50 AM



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