Let me start with my recent experience in this topic. I work at a school where the API is the lowest in the District. We are marketing our AP Calculus program because if there is not enough students to take it, we will lose the whole program. Said that, last Friday one of my Calculus students informed me that he got into pre-med at UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC Davis. He wanted my help in picking the right college. I was really excited and asked him about the details. Then, more surprises were revealed . First of all he is a Junior graduating this year as a senior. Also, he got the college credit for one year too. That means he only needs to do 3 years of Graduate studies at college. Now how did he do it? The moment he joined our 9th grade class he realized that our classes are not challenging. So, he took night classes at community colleges and finished 2 years of course work ahead. He didn’t even care about the after school program at our school. So, what is the moral from that? If the child is motivated, we will have opportunities around us. Also, we should be good at finding those opportunities out.
Disadvantages of the advanced programs in a low performing school:
Ok, this is an interesting topic to discuss. First of all, academics are not the only factor in your child’s high school life. They have to do tons of extra curricular activities outside the school like after school sports, clubs, dances etc. So think of it this way, your kid is taking six to seven advanced periods in a low performing school with highly motivated kids and highly trained teachers. But what happens after that? You can’t guarantee that your child is going to be with those highly motivated kids during after school activities. There are a lot of bad things like drugs, sex, gangs, just to name a few. If you think your child is capable of handling these situations then you are fine. High school years are so important for them to build their character, building connections, developing other interests, e.t.c. Also, you need to run around for counseling services, e.t.c. So it is absolutely your call. If your child is like the child in my class, you will be fine. But the risk factors are 50:50. Is your child ready to take that challenge?
Advantages/Disadvantages of IB/Magnet programs:
This program follows a standardized curriculum and unique curriculum around the world. So, they are great programs in any school. Only highly motivated kids are in those classes, and trained teachers are taking the classes. The student needs to decide which area they are going to graduate to in 9th grade, so that way they are learning specialized subjects in that particular area. As for normal schools, kids can decide on their future even in the twelfth grade. So if a particular student in the IB program decides not to continue in that particular field in his tenth/eleventh grade they have to start over again in the other subject.