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[Susan notes: Good answer to a ridiculous column.]

Published in Wall Street Journal
10/19/2006

To the editor


A High School Wrestles With Advanced Placement



In her Oct. 6 de gustibus column "Test Question: Why Is High School the New College?" (Taste page, Weekend Journal), Naomi Schaefer Riley takes Scarsdale school officials to task for their proposal to drop the Advanced Placement course designation.



Scarsdale High School's faculty and administration have studied the role of A.P. classes at the school for more than a year and a half. They've consulted with more than 100 colleges and universities in the process. They believe that some survey courses, especially in science and social studies, would be better if there were more time to investigate certain topics in greater depth and to develop writing and thinking skills more fully. Given the huge amounts of material they now cover more superficially for A.P. tests, that's not possible.



College admissions officers have been uniformly supportive of this idea. They express confidence that Scarsdale courses will continue to provide appropriate content coverage and also meet high standards of rigor and quality. College teachers who've been consulted say they want first-year students to come to them with the ability to think and write well, to persevere in the face of disappointment, to understand the "big ideas" in their subjects, and to be intellectually curious.



The A.P. program has served many schools, Scarsdale High School included, very well. That doesn't mean it's perfect or that it can't be improved upon. To the contrary, the high school's willingness to question and its efforts to improve are the essence of good educational practice.



Michael V. McGill

Superintendent of Schools

Scarsdale Public Schools

Scarsdale, N.Y.

Michael V. McGill


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