Enrollment increases for AP classes in Arundel

Critics fear crowding, weakened courses

April 17, 2003|By Laura Loh | Laura Loh,SUN STAFF

Roughly one in five high school students in Anne Arundel County will be taking an Advanced Placement course in the fall, according to projected enrollment data released by school officials yesterday.

The figures -- showing that the number of students enrolled in AP will rise to 4,817 from 2,754 this year -- come two weeks after administrators told the school board that efforts to boost enrollment in the college-level classes have begun to pay off.

But critics say the school system's endeavor to recruit more students into AP is misguided. It has put pressure on students to take high-level courses they aren't necessarily ready to take, some parents say.

Another concern is that there might not be enough teachers familiar with the demanding coursework and that the result will be larger class sizes or watered-down courses, according to some parents and teachers.

"Everybody's not gifted, and we need to be realistic about it," said Julia Pruchniewski, an honors English teacher at South River High School. "So the children who are gifted, they are going to pay the price because they're going to be in overcrowded classes, tended to by overworked and inexperienced teachers."

School officials, however, say they plan to offer teachers training this summer and keep an eye on swelling classes.

Associate Superintendent Joseph Wise said the AP enrollment data are encouraging for another reason: The number of African-American students who signed up for AP classes went up from 193 students this year to 511 next year -- a 165 percent increase.

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