The Controversy Around AP Courses
Throughout the country there has been a gradual shift towards pushing for more AP (Advanced Placement) Courses; specifically, a push for higher enrollment within them. AP Courses are typically offered to high school students with no upfront cost to them (the school district pays about $90 per AP exam taken). Successful completion of an AP exam (usually a score of 3 out of 5, marking a passing rate) entitles a student to use that course towards college credit in most colleges and universities. One inherent benefit to the student who passes the exam is the reduced cost in college credit attainment. It has also been argued that students who don’t pass the exams still benefit from the exposure to the rigorous curriculum of these courses. From my experience in leading the push to greater access of more academic rigor for America’s students, I strongly support this notion.
There has been a call to question the motives of The College Board (the non-profit organization that offers AP exams); as we have seen this increase in course enrollment and availability correlated with decreased passing rates. Opponents often say that students are being pushed into taking courses that may be too advanced for them. They question if there is a profit-motive behind the increased enrollment, and assume that The College Board is to blame. The linked Chicago Tribune article here, explores this controversy.
If we are to return America to top-status academically, we must tap all ways to increase rigor, relevance, and results with our school kids. This reigns especially true for our under-served, under-exposed, and under-performing students.