Vail Daily letter: Plenty of ‘rigor’
Vail, CO Colorado
Last week I read “Report: High schools lack ‘rigor'” and was quite surprised by the findings of the study. As a graduate of Battle Mountain High School (class of 2009), I disagree with the findings of the report. I attended Battle Mountain for all four years of my high school career and graduated near the top of my class. This year I attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, and I was surprised at how prepared I actually was.
The point that I disagree with the most is that the Advanced Placement classes and the Dual Enrollment were not much harder than the regular classes. While at Battle Mountain, I took as many AP and DE classes as I could, and it was those classes that really prepared me for
Junior year, I took AP biology with Mr.Caudill. School had up until that point usually been pretty easy for me, but the first day in class it was made clear that this was an advanced class that would require lots of work. I found myself studying for the tests for hours on end, reading the textbook word for word and taking all the notes in class.
I ended up with a decent grade in that class and felt like I had tasted the level of work that would be required of me for every class in college. This year I studied equally as hard for my classes as I did in AP biology, and I ended up with A’s and B’s.
Senior year at Battle Mountain, I took AP calculus, taught by Ms. Wheatley. Just like I had in AP biology, I studied harder than I ever usually had to, but it rewarded me in the end with high grades. On both the AP biology and AP calculus exams, I scored a 4 (out of 5), which made me eligible to take college credit for those classes and skip them at CU.
After several recommendations from friends at CU, I decided to retake calculus the first semester. I found that I was way ahead of the class, and I knew almost all of the material throughout the whole semester. My classmates didn’t understand how I never studied yet still got A’s on all of my tests, but the answer was because of Battle Mountain.
In contrast, I will say it is very easy to choose to take all the easy classes at Battle Mountain and not have a very hard time at all. I have always said that at Battle Mountain there seem to be the kids who choose to take the hardest classes they can and those who just take the easiest classes they can to get enough credits to graduate.
However, to me this shouldn’t be reflected negatively upon the staff at Battle Mountain. I was always encouraged by teachers and staff to take a harder class over an easier one, and on several occasions when I was in a class that was too easy for me, my teachers gave me advanced assignments and extra work.
Part of the reason I enjoyed Battle Mountain was that I had a choice in what classes I wanted to take, and I became more and more responsible for my own academic career as I went from a freshman to a senior. For example, almost everyone in my freshman class had the same classes with a few exceptions, but by the time I graduated, everyone had a unique schedule.
I’m glad that there are groups that are studying academic standings like this, but I feel like sometimes student input from attending Battle Mountain can be more valuable than sitting in on classes for a few days.