A recent letter writer lamented American public schools' lack of high educational standards, especially for science and math, while recommending that teacher evaluations be toughened and a pay-for-performance system be implemented as remedies. I invite the writer to become involved in his local school improvement council to explore these issues before suggesting solutions to problems that do not exist or which won't be solved by his suggested remedies.
I teach Advanced Placement physics, which is a college-level physics course, at Bluffton High School. With all students testing, my AP pass rates have always exceeded international averages, usually by 30 to 40 percent. Moreover, these AP successes have been repeated in other subjects too, leading The Washington Post to name Bluffton High School and Hilton Head High School as two of the country's most rigorous schools. More importantly, most students who pursue STEM degrees after completing our preparation program do not drop out. I cannot find any dropouts among the last three years of my AP students. We need to encourage more students to take these courses -- a goal we are diligently working on.
Also, the pay-for-performance schemes proposed by the South Carolina Department of Education would not reward teachers or schools who prepare students using the AP program, so they will not promote the excellence we have achieved.
Bluffton High School