Staff Ed: Prerequisites stifle student achievement


Art by Julia Koldovskiy
[dropcap color=”#” bgcolor=”#” sradius=”0″]I[/dropcap]t’s no secret that the average RBHS student has opportunities galore, from the multitude of extra-curriculars to the easily accessible Career Center courses and AP classes.
Unfortunately, with all the possibilities, there is never enough time in the day to get involved with everything. The sheer variety of classes can be overwhelming and oftentimes students must choose a prerequisite or required course instead of a curriculum that actually sparks their interest.
However, there may be an option that RBHS simply isn’t exploring, an option that could allow students to bypass this age old system of prerequisites and requirements.
In January the district announced an update concerning testing out in regard to summer school. The new regulation will make it possible for students to take a single test on the first day in order to sidestep the summer school course entirely and change a failing grade into a passing one.
This new option will allow students to demonstrate proficiency more efficiently, saving both time and resources. Although it may seem like an “easy way out,” RBHS faculty will no doubt design a satisfactory examination.
In fact the issue of saving time isn’t restricted to summer school. Each student faces the dilemma of both completing the required credits while also pursuing other programs that relate to the field they want to go into. A way to remedy this is to extend the courtesy of testing out to all non advanced placement lessons.
Teachers and parents could argue that a test can’t make up for the experience a semester or a year-long class offers. However, it doesn’t make much sense for  students to be forced through a curriculum they are already familiar with. High school simply isn’t meant for coercing students through unnecessary courses; it’s about learning. It’s much like the argument for homework. Sure, homework is necessary for some students in some instances, but for others homework is an irrelevant burden. If students are willing to work hard–or if they know the material already–to test out of a class, it’s not likely that they are slackers.
Some courses, such as art and foreign languages, demand prerequisites that can take years to complete. It would be extremely useful to some if the courses could be bypassed in order to advance to the class that fits the student’s skill level. Those who are able to show ability beyond their peers should be allowed access to something that challenges them. With the current system students have to jump through hoops upon hoops just to get into a class that actually matches their abilities.
The solution to this problem lies in amending the course structure, even if it’s just with the small addition of allowing interested students to submit portfolios for any classes that have a prerequisite; departments should share the standards they expect of students entering advanced courses. Despite the fact that some students have managed to  get past the system on an individual level by going to specific teachers and laying out their case, a new policy that makes this opportunity available to all is necessary. Faculty should consider the change and put this issue on the list of changes that make RBHS the cutting edge school we know it to be.