Parity needed for AP and dual-enrolled students

Andrea Hart | 2/14/2014, 6 a.m.
In the DeKalb Schools System, as well as other schools systems statewide, students are awarded Quality Points for taking certain ...

In the DeKalb Schools System, as well as other schools systems statewide, students are awarded Quality Points for taking certain rigorous courses.

Currently, DeKalb Schools awards one Quality Point to those students who take Advanced Placement or “AP” courses, and also awards one Quality Point to students who take classes within it’s International Baccalaureate or “IB” program.

The number of Quality Points awarded to students can vary from one county to the next. In at least one nearby county, students in the AP and IB programs are awarded 10 quality points for their participation in those programs.

Upon passage of an AP exam, students can earn college credits that are usually accepted by most colleges and universities, nationally.

Quality Points boost students’ grade point averages.

Dual Enrollment is another academic offering in DeKalb Schools. It is reserved for any high school junior or senior who meets certain prerequisites, but some ninth and 10th-grade students also participate.

Generally, students may take classes at a local junior college, usually at Georgia Perimeter College. Students who are enrolled at the DeKalb Early College Academy, however, attend their high school for their freshman and sophomore years, and upon successful completion of the 9th and 10th grade years, coupled with passage of the national junior college entrance COMPASS exam, attend GPC’s Clarkston Campus, on a full-time basis.

Dual-enrolled students have their college tuition covered by ACCEL, which is a part of the HOPE scholarship program. Parents, however, must pay college fees, each semester, and when available secured grants to cover the cost of books.

Students who are dually enrolled may earn 3 to 62 college credits. Some earn an Associate’s Degree and their high school diploma concurrently.

But while dually-enrolled students work just as hard and are just as driven and motivated to achieve as their AP and IB counterparts, they do not enjoy the same benefits as AP and IB students. Specifically, in the DeKalb school district, dual-enrollment students are not awarded Quality Points for earning college credits in the same manner that AP and IB students are awarded them for taking classes within those programs.

AP and IB courses are more challenging than the typical and regular course that a majority of high school students take. AP courses are supposed to be similar to college courses, but taught at a high school. AP students earn Quality Points that increase their grade point average, whether they pass the AP exam or not.

In contrast, dual-enrollment students have one opportunity to submit assignments under the University System of Georgia guidelines, and don’t have multiple opportunities to submit assigned work. They also are not awarded a Quality Point for their efforts.

One could argue that the whole idea of giving students something extra for taking on more challenging academic work is ridiculous; that students and their parents should be satisfied with just the ability to participate in more rigorous courses.

The same could be said of those in the workforce who enjoy pay-for-performance bonuses, in addition to their regular salary. If pay-for-performance is available to those who perform well, then it is available for anyone who performs at a desired level. Similarly, if dual-enrollment students are performing at the desired level, which allows them to be successful in the college course of study, shouldn’t they, too, be able to receive the same bonus as others who are performing at the desired level?