Questions about whether America’s high schools should drop Advanced Placement (AP) classes, created a debate on social media. The fact that AP is driven by an outside money-making nonprofit, sometimes bothered parents and teachers, but not enough to end AP. Or, it did not seem to matter to some.
The overriding question could be why are so many parents and teachers convinced that students must do college work in high school? Students should not be denied challenging work, but the fervor with which many parents and teachers have bought into AP is worrisome.
Also, many people like to tout that AP is best, but it is difficult to find recent research to indicate that AP helps students do better in college. The one Stanford study indicates difficulty in showing causality—meaning students who do well in college after taking AP classes, probably would have done well anyway.
A friend suggested that I discuss how AP has become embedded in high schools. Whether you like AP or not it is very much a part of the high school landscape. That all of us can agree on.
Since public education should involve debate, I thought I would share some of the ideas presented the last few days about AP.
- Parents like that paying for AP exams in high school shortens the time and expense of college in the long run.
- The perception by many is that AP is the most rigorous coursework offered by the high school.
- Some parents believe public schools failed and require AP to challenge students.
- Students and parents understand that AP in high school will get you a high ranking and into good universities.
- A lot of parents like the idea of high school students doing college coursework. They believe this will get them a better job someday.
- Some parents remember and are proud that they took AP in high school.
- Very few, if any, were concerned about David Coleman (Common Core) as CEO of The College Board.
- Parents like to claim that AP is not elitist. Few seem to think their schools will not pay for those who cannot afford the exams.
- Some parents are excited about middle school and AP high school-like courses there.
- Some parents like their students to limit AP classes, and they don’t care if their students take the AP test.
- A few parents expressed their liking for the International Baccalaureate program instead of AP. This program raises questions worthy of a post on its own.
- Parents and teachers like the consistency of the program (standards).
- Stress is mentioned quite a bit.
- Many believe students are not developmentally ready for college material in high school but feel pushed to take these courses to get into a good college.
- Some worry about dual enrollment and Honors classes getting short shrift.
- There is concern that students will miss out on socialization and the fun activities synonymous with teens and high school.
- It was noted that AP classes could present a false sense of accomplishment and students are not developmentally ready, and don’t understand, the college coursework.
- There is concern that AP classes involve mostly teaching to a test.
- Many parents are troubled that an outside organization seems to be in control of their child’s future.
- Some AP classes are criticized for not doing labs or projects, but only focusing on rote memorization for the test.
- A lot of parents don’t like The College Board in general.
- Parents and teachers don’t like the standards and the tests.
- Colleges should reconsider AP.
- Here is a report about The College Board rewarding DeKalb County, Georgia for enrollment, not achievement.
I may add to these lists as time goes on. Thank you for all the feedback.