Garner: Opinion

Editorial: Building higher expectations

Wake County got some good news last week when school leaders learned the system has been recognized for raising its participation levels in Advanced Placement courses.

We’ve written in this space on many occasions about the need to hold higher expectations of our students. Last week’s recognition is evidence that just such a thing is happening.

Higher expectations on the part of everyone – from school board members and school system administrators all the way up to parents and students – are required if we expect to see student performance improve in Wake County.

And while our county enjoys a relatively solid reputation for student performance as a whole, it’s also true that there is room for improvement. There is always room for improvement.

Increased participation in AP courses – the most academically challenging classes Wake County offers – is a clear indication that students want to be challenged and that parents want rigor in their children’s education.

AP courses are not for everyone. Some students simply don’t have a sufficient foundation to be successful in an AP class. That’s not necessarily bad. But school-level administrators and counselors have been proactive in guiding and encouraging students to take the more difficult AP courses when they believe a student is capable. Doing that sets expectations from school leaders and can often give a student the confidence of knowing someone thinks they are capable of mastering more difficult subject matters.

Increased expectations matter. These days, when the cost of a college education continues to soar, parents are finding the value in AP courses that could reduce some of the cost burdens association with college. Students who take AP courses and score well enough on end of class exams can apply credit hours toward their college degree, saving parents hundreds and thousands of dollars. As parents see more and more that AP courses advance their child’s opportunities at the next level, they consider more closely their child’s capabilities and encourage them to meet those higher expectations.

Our students are capable of so much more. We can help them reach their full capacity by building, maintaining and communicating our higher expectations. The more that happens, the more we’ll see AP course participation continue to increase.

And as long as principals and counselors are careful not to place a student inapprorpriately, there is no reason to think those participation scores can’t continue to increase.