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AP or Bust
First, let's look at what the purpose of classes for advance placement. Advance placement courses were established for students who, first, had the intelligence to master a college-level course in high school and, second, were planning to attend college. Many AP courses give students college credit in high school. Ultimately, this means that the student will not need to take those courses again, thereby saving time and tuition.
With this said, most gifted and talented learners would do well in AP classes.
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When Not to Take an AP Class
Educators teaching gifted and talented learners can attest to the fact that some students excel in all subject areas; however, there are those who have a singular gift or talent. Advanced placement classes might not be the best fit for these students.
For example, if a student excels in math, only, then taking an AP History course would not be wise. Not only might the student find the course overwhelming, but also it could frustrate him or her to the point that they lose self-esteem, thereby slipping in all subject areas.
High school counselors would be wise to guide carefully students into advanced placement classes, especially student with exceptional gifts and talents.
In addition, AP programs that focus heavily on "getting into college" rather than offering gifted and talented students a challenging and diverse means of tackling subject they are passionate about, may find that students lose interest in the class.
Another consideration is that gifted learners may be academically beyond the course work offered in an advanced placement class. It is important that school departments find ways to meet the academic needs of exceptional students with additional gifted programs.
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Advantages of Taking AP Classes
On the other hand, advanced placement classes for students who are gifted and talented in their area of expertise can excite and challenge when taught critically with differentiating curriculum. Giving students the opportunity to debate, discuss, research and self-discover adds to their joy of learning.
In addition to the traditional AP course work offered by most high schools, gifted and talented learners may also do well with advanced placement classes given online or during the summer months. Since AP courses can often carry heavy workloads, the online or summer option can work well for gifted and talented learners who want to participate in other school activities during the school year.
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Teaching gifted and talented learners should not be done hit or miss by offering generic advanced placement classes in place of high-quality, academically-sound, gifted and talented coursework. Academically exceptional students have a right to the best education possible. Advanced placement classes are a strong option for teaching gifted and talented learners as long as the quality of classes is high, matching the expertise of the student.
- Duke Gifted Letter (Digest of Gifted Research), Duke University
- Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, University of Connecticut
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