Be challenged

“I have yet to find any schools making more progress by challenging their students less.”

That’s the closing line on Jay Mathews’ piece last week that challenges schools to in turn challenge their average and below-average students. Encourage all students to enroll in an AP course and show them that someone believes they are capable of taking and even passing an AP exam for college credit.  Changing school culture to encourage students to challenge themselves, and placing them in a classroom led by a teacher who presents them with a hard topic and believes that they can come through it, can have surprisingly positive results on student achievement.

If your students think school is easy, then you’re doing something wrong.

Read more about AP.

About Alison Segal
Program Manager at Mass Insight Education www.massinsight.org

2 Responses to Be challenged

  1. You’re spot on to see this as an issue of culture instead of pedagogy. What amazes me is that so many schools find themselves caught off guard by the realities outlined many years ago in Pygmalion in the Classroom. Our perception, when coupled with best practices and time on task, can dramatically improve the chances our students have of living the lives they choose instead of those with which they’re statistically heading towards. Success in AP courses doesn’t come easily, but it does start with a teacher’s willingness to open the door to students and potentially even fight their past and sense of self for the chance to excel. I’ve seen the change in teachers and in students; it’s powerful.

  2. Alison Segal says:

    David,

    As always, thanks for your comment! We’ve seen in our work in Massachusetts that when teachers encourage students that might not join an AP course under normal circumstances, they are more likely to have success in the classroom and achieve high scores on their AP exams. It is indeed a very powerful story!

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