More AP News

The number of people taking AP classes is going up with Virginia and Maryland leading the way, and the number of people passing the AP exam is also growing. I have certainly seen this in my own experience. I took two AP classes, US history and calculus, back in 1975. My oldest daughter took 9 AP classes when she was in high school, and my next daughter is now taking AP world history as a sophomore.

AP classes are clearly better than most high school classes, but they are not true college level classes. In my experience as a professor of physics at a major research university, the passing score of 3 out of 5 is not adequate for credit at a top tier university. We required a 5 for credit. When my daughter went off to collge, I advised her to retake the courses in her major and only use the credit for non-major courses. The AP world history is being taught straight from a textbook. My college history classes always used supplementary readings beyond the text.
I wish I knew how much money the College Board makes on AP exams and whether they are just being self serving when the promoite the classes and the exams.

Packer said that about 150,000 high school students have access to AP
calculus courses, but a College Board analysis of PSAT scores shows
that five times as many have the capacity to do well in those courses
if they were offered at their schools. The analysis showed that 100,000
students had access to AP biology, but eight times as many could do
well in that course.

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One Response to “More AP News”

  1. I agree that AP courses are not college courses. You had to have a 5 for credit at Princeton, though a 4 could get you placement without credit.

    I had experience with both AP and the International Baccalaureate program, which was offered at the international school in Tokyo that I attended my senior year. AP is really just another standardized test, albeit on targeted coursework, while IB is meant to be more of a curriculum. I didn’t do the whole diploma, but I did IB Higher for English (because I already had an AP English exam under my belt) and IB Subsidiary in Contemporary East Asian History and Studio Art. We had one on one interviews with an examiner in which we read and discussed either portions from Chaucer or Shakespeare, as I recall, in addition to the written portions of the exam, which was split over two days. If I recall correctly, we also had to submit an essay that we had written during the year as well. So one’s score didn’t boil down to a single three-hour exam.

    Even in the subjects I did subsid, there was more of an organic feel about the process. I remember my art teacher explaining the difference between AP Studio art and the IB exam. In the AP test, you mailed off a portfolio of work to be graded. But in the IB system, we each set up an exhibit of our work at the end of the year, and the examiner came around and we discussed our work with him. Again, a bit more give and take than you get in the AP system.

    We do love to boil things down to a simple whammy number here in the US, though. I think the origins of my falling off the straight and narrow path of numbers uber alles has its roots in my time in Tokyo, where I learned that there is much to know that doesn’t submit itself to quantification neatly.

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