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WSJ: "A Way for High-School Students to Boost Their GPAs: Take Classes at Other High Schools"

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Replies to: WSJ: "A Way for High-School Students to Boost Their GPAs: Take Classes at Other High Schools"

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83911 replies744 threads Senior Member
    1NJParent wrote:
    Are these students going to take the same college courses twice too?

    Repeating one's AP credit (even after an easy 5) is commonly done, and appears to be conventional wisdom on these forums, despite often being a waste of time and tuition. (Yes, AP courses are not college courses, but they cover similar material as the college courses that colleges allow advanced placement out of.)
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 3042 replies5 threads Senior Member
    "I think that anyone who has already taken a course during the summer should not be permitted to re-take it during the school year. That student should be placed in the next class in the sequence."

    How would the high school know you're taking anything in the summer unless you tell them about it, which you would only do if you wanted to place out. Even then some high schools do not allow accelerating

    "Just when I think CC has covered every possible way of kids gaming the system, a new one comes up."

    This is not that new, been going on for a while as other posters have noted.
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  • gwnorthgwnorth 667 replies8 threads Member
    Not sure that it's much different than paying for tutoring during the school year. One way to discourage "pretaking" would be to change the school calendar and go to full year schooling.
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  • racereerracereer 411 replies1 threads Member
    Never saw anything in our area where you could take an AP class over the summer. My son did a few classes over the summer like PE/Drivers ED and Personal Finance so he could have room in his schedule to keep doing choir during the school year while getting all the AP/dual enrollment he still wanted.
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1675 replies8 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    Taking the same class elsewhere where grading is less rigorous clearly indicates a broken system and is at least intellectually dishonest if not a form of cheating. Taking the same class elsewhere in the summer and then retaking it during the school year seems like gamesmanship that should be discouraged by at least requiring disclosure on a transcript or college application. Private tutoring treads on slightly different grounds. It does venture into the area of privilege and advantage, but I don't see how we regulate what people are willing to invest in their kids' education and the kids' willingness to put in the extra work. At some point, we have to accept that some kids come into a class better prepared than others, and in many situations they should be lauded for that, e.g. the kid that decides to read the Iliad, the Odyssey and Macbeth over the summer instead of spending their spare time playing video games.
    edited June 2019
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  • brantlybrantly 4325 replies78 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    @theloniusmonk
    How would the high school know you're taking anything in the summer unless you tell them about it, which you would only do if you wanted to place out. Even then some high schools do not allow accelerating
    The high school must set a policy that all summer courses must be reported. Perhaps they can set up an agreement with the private school where the students are taking these courses. The private school can send a list of names and the courses each one is taking. Or students could be required to notify the school. Maybe there should be some sort of form that parents have to sign before the start of each school year, with a legally vetted warning about the consequences of committing fraud.
    edited June 2019
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  • MarianMarian 13230 replies83 threads Senior Member
    I'm not sure whether preparing in advance really is fraud.

    I do know that our family was guilty of it once.

    When my son was in sixth grade, he qualified to be in the advanced band the following year. But there was a catch. For scheduling reasons, he would have to take accelerated Spanish (a full year of high school Spanish in seventh grade) rather than regular Spanish (half a year of high school Spanish in seventh grade). He didn't know whether he could handle the accelerated Spanish, but he really wanted to be in the advanced band.

    So he and I spent huge chunks of time that summer working together with a Spanish textbook (I had taken Spanish myself in high school). I taught him a lot of vocabulary. We went through a lot of grammar together. And by the beginning of the school year, he already knew more than half of what was going to be taught in Spanish 1.

    Was this unethical? Would it have been unethical if he had worked on Spanish with a paid tutor instead? What about if he had taken a course instead? Where do you draw the line?
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  • skieuropeskieurope 41093 replies7740 threads Super Moderator
    edited June 2019
    Was this unethical?
    No
    Would it have been unethical if he had worked on Spanish with a paid tutor instead?
    No
    What about if he had taken a course instead?
    Maybe
    Where do you draw the line?
    I won't use the word unethical, but I would have issues, and would not allow my kids to do the following:
    • Taking Spanish 1A in the summer and then taken Spanish 1A in the academic year
    • Taking Spanish 1 in the summer and then taking Spanish 1 (or 1A) in the academic year.

    I would be OK with:
    • Taking Spanish 1A in the summer and then taken Spanish 1 (or 1B) in the academic year.

    For the record, I'm also not a big fan of students retaking courses in college for which they received AP credit unless the college requires their specific courses for the major or unless the college course differs substantially from AP (in which case, the college should not be giving AP credit for the subject). Since, in general, a degree requires 32-40 courses, I can't imagine the rationale for wasting one of these limited blocks to relearn material that one should already know.
    edited June 2019
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  • 3kids2dogs3kids2dogs 462 replies25 threads Member
    edited June 2019
    I'm new to these boards since my oldest child is a (rising) junior, but this topic piqued my interest. I don't think this is the current practice at my child's HS and I'm glad it isn't because I'd like my kids to have a summer to do things that aren't academically rigid/structured like the day to day grind that a rigorous HS curriculum is. My daughter does well enough in school the first time around, so I'm good with it. I could see my my middle son (rising freshman) struggling if everyone else came to class having advanced knowledge of every tough course.

    But anyway, in my head I kept replacing these parents' behavior with sports parents. It is very common around here to spend the entire summer training for (insert sport here) in order to have an edge with making varsity or a specific club team. If you said - that's not fair to the kids who are waiting until the season starts to train, people would look at you like you had two heads.

    In actuality, the parents are chasing the same dreams (being the best, scholarships, $$$), just a different way to reach them.
    edited June 2019
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  • NJWrestlingmomNJWrestlingmom 1800 replies2 threads Senior Member
    I'm sure this happens at D21's school. No outside classes count in GPA, but I'm sure kids take summer classes to get a leg up. I know for certain almost everyone has a tutor! H teaches in the district and is booked solid all school year and a good chunk of the summer. D21 hates the idea of a tutor - she feels like it's cheating. I suggested one this summer for math. Double duty for SAT prep and getting ready for pre-calc (math isn't her favorite!), but she doesn't want it and wants to prep on her own using the packet provided by the school for optional summer math practice.
    Just another advantage to having money.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10458 replies124 threads Senior Member
    This thread, like so many others, illustrates the uneven playing field.

    This has also gotten me thinking about school assigned summer work. My D's HS had a ton of summer homework every year, starting for incoming freshmen. Most classes had work, from problem sets in math, to assigned reading, and papers. For rising Sophomores, summer work included extensive ACT prep. Summer work was graded, there were tests on the materials, and everything counted towards first quarter GPA. Students were expected to hit the ground running from the first day of school. Outside courses weren't accepted and frankly, I'm not sure there would have been time!

    In retrospect, this is the school itself structuring "getting ahead."

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  • hebegebehebegebe 2967 replies43 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    This all works out in the end.

    The talented students that can do fine without the summer preparation have extra time during the summer to take a summer job, do research, or attend sports camps. Or even, I dare say, have fun.

    Another way to think about this is that, given two students that will find the class somewhat difficult, preparing over the summer rewards the student who is willing to work harder to do well in the upcoming class. There are worse things than that to worry about.
    edited June 2019
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  • InfoQuestMomInfoQuestMom 301 replies4 threads Member
    @momofsenior1 Is your school public or private? Our school only has summer work for certain, not all, AP courses.
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  • InfoQuestMomInfoQuestMom 301 replies4 threads Member
    @3kids2dogs Are all sports at your school competitive? Here some are and some not, thankfully. Here, if you want to make the soccer, volleyball, football, gymnastics, baseball, softball or basketball team, you pretty much need to be a club player. Swim, wrestling, waterpolo, track and meet, cross country, field hockey, tennis, golf, cheer, and lacrosse are either no cut or easier to get in.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10458 replies124 threads Senior Member
    @InfoQuestMom - Private parochial.

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  • 3kids2dogs3kids2dogs 462 replies25 threads Member
    @InfoQuestMom - no, some sports are not as competitive, but if you want to make one of the sports that is competitive, you either better be immensely talented, playing club, or training hard on your own.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 3042 replies5 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    "The high school must set a policy that all summer courses must be reported. Perhaps they can set up an agreement with the private school where the students are taking these courses."

    These private schools are not just local schools, many colleges have summer programs where you can take all sorts of classes - ones for college credit, ones to prep you for your next year in h.s., creative writing, math, etc. There's no way a school can ask for all these classes to be reported, even assuming that it's legal to do so. And how would you determine which class to report, is a 7 week college class in Chemistry not allowed but a three week class on literature and essay writing ok, even though the latter is advertised as helping with APLAC or APLIT?

    "Maybe there should be some sort of form that parents have to sign before the start of each school year, with a legally vetted warning about the consequences of committing fraud."

    There is absolutely now way parents would sign this, and even if they did, no way can this could be enforced. Fraud is a loaded word, legally or academically, what laws are people breaking by saying that they took no class in the summer but did take one?
    edited June 2019
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  • CardinalBobcatCardinalBobcat 165 replies2 threads Junior Member
    I sincerely wish @hebegebe was correct in writing:

    "This all works out in the end. The talented students that can do fine without the summer preparation have extra time during the summer to take a summer job, do research, or attend sports camps. Or even, I dare say, have fun. Another way to think about this is that, given two students that will find the class somewhat difficult, preparing over the summer rewards the student who is willing to work harder to do well in the upcoming class. There are worse things than that to worry about."

    Instead, this is what I've seen:

    "There is also a tipping point -- if enough students are coming into a class having already mastered the material, the teacher's expectations may change, potentially further negatively impacting students entering the course without the extensive prior preparation."

    And from @InfoQuestMom, who speaks the truth and whose comment we casually dismiss at our (children's) peril:

    "Your observations about the tipping point is spot on. That’s how you end up with high rates of teen depression, burnout and even suicide in certain areas. No matter how hard you try, the bar keeps going up and the expectations insanely unhealthy."

    Indeed. It's one thing if a dedicated student decides to prepare in advance for a tough upcoming class, but that's not what's being described here. These off-the-books summer classes are real, and business is thriving in many parts of the country.

    Moreover, in my prior experience, the kids filling up these classes were typically among the most talented (and financially privileged.) Many weren't doing it in order to survive the tough upcoming course; they were pre-taking the class so that they could earn an A in a tough class with very little effort during the academic year. This, in turn, allowed them to put that time and energy toward other challenging courses, sports, research internships, etc. It literally freed up hours out of each day, as well as providing a GPA and class rank boost.

    Even as I write this, I know someone, somewhere, is reading it and saying, "Hey, I didn't know this was a thing... that's a great idea and I'll be sure my child does it." Anything and everything to get ahead. Sigh.

    Teen depression, burnout, and even suicide were (and are) very real problems in the particular geographical area I'm referencing, and in other communities across the nation. It's the question of that tipping point, after which students are left to marinate 24/7 in this hyper-competitive environment and can't even stop to breathe during the summer.

    Our kids are counting on us to understand this and to protect them from it, IMHO.
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  • collegemom9collegemom9 823 replies30 threads Member
    @brantly The colleges giving a list of names to the high school would violate FERPA.
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  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal 3487 replies34 threads Senior Member
    My kid was accelerated in math and doing fine right up to pre-calc honors her freshman year. When I had a discussion with the teacher about some seeming gaps in her knowledge between A2 the previous year and the class she was in, he told me the other 5 freshmen in the class were all fine. It was only my daughter struggling. I was confused by this. These six kids had been on this track together for years and had all been fine. So I saw another mom and asked how her son was doing and she said he was fine, but she was really glad he took a prep class over the summer. Came to find out every kid on that track had taken a prep class except mine.
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