Teacher questions value of AP program

A popular article describes the problem with the AP program:
A warning to college profs from a high school teacher.

Performance on the AP test, while indicating some level of competence, does not necessarily mean one has learned what one would in the equivalent college course…Dartmouth College will no longer give credit for AP because when they tested incoming students who had scored well on the AP Psychology test the vast majority failed what would have been the end-of- course exam in Dartmouth’s introductory psychology class.

After a rebuttal, the author defends his position:
Teacher questions value of AP program

Is it time to reconsider AP Classes?

Update Sept 30, 2019 :

Rejecting AP Courses
Several well-known private schools in the D.C. area are scrapping Advanced Placement classes
AP courses losing favor among more high schools
Will Dropping AP Become a National Trend?


This article and the comments following discusses alternatives to offering AP classes in High School:

“The elite Urban School in San Francisco also chose not to offer AP courses, nor does Riverdale Country Day School in New York. “I think it’s sort of an impoverished view of expecting kids to learn a bunch of stuff and parrot it back to you, and that’s the end of it,” said Dominic Rudolph, Head of School at Riverdale Country in a talk at the Aspen Ideas Festival. “These kids have to be better critical thinkers, they have to be better communicators,” he added. He doesn’t think passing the AP test necessarily gives them those skills.”

Are AP classes worth the effort?

We’ve noticed some of the private schools dropping AP courses and even some public schools. They say they are a real cause of stress for the kids. And at some public schools, we were hearing that there was de facto tracking happening where advanced students were ending up on a track that put them mostly in AP classes and lower level students on a track of mostly remedial classes. There were two tracks and limited options for average students.

Colleges don’t always accept the courses for college credit, many students end up repeating the course in college anyway, and you can run the risk of memorizing material for a test versus delving into a subject and exploring it in an enriching way. Sometimes an honors course at a high school is actually a better option for rigorous and engaging learning.

Frankly, many high-achieving high school students are really stressed out. They have a lot to do between extracurricular activities and homework and also trying to get the sleep they need. They need to be prepared for what an AP course involves. The extra tests, extra homework, on top of an already demanding schedule, can be brutal. And a very low grade on your transcript from an AP course may hurt you more in the long run than not taking an AP in that subject at all.

Read this article not for the content for the comments that follow!

Advice from a Dean of Admissions on Selecting High School Courses

Why Schools Don’t Teach Innovation

From Walt Gardner’s article:

Tony Wagner argues that young people in this country become innovators in spite of their schools – not because of them.”

“…most schools are designed and operated to penalize failure. Yet unless students are allowed to fail, they can’t learn. ”

“…Although grades are important, they pale beside “play, passion and purpose.”

“…Consider the widespread use of standardized tests to determine the education quality of schools. They are the wrong instrument to determine if the curriculum and instruction are developing innovative thinkers. Instead of identifying innovators, they suppress them. Reformers can’t have it both ways. If they want schools to develop the next Steve Jobs or J.J. Rowling, they have to let go of their obsession with test scores as indispensable evidence of quality education. “

Should Johnny Learn to Program?

Points and counter points on whether computer programming should be something all  kids should learn: Should Johnny Learn to Program?

I’m on the  side of no, programming is not a basic skill everyone should learn.  I like this counterpoint:

The giant hole in our workforce isn’t entry level developers who can hash out c code and write a compiler from scratch. It is for people with combined skills who can APPLY encapsulated technology (lots thanks to companies has been encapsulated) to specific domains.

The giant hole in our workforce isn’t entry level developers who can hash out c code and write a compiler from scratch. It is for people with combined skills who can APPLY encapsulated technology (lots thanks to companies has been encapsulated) to specific domains.

Let’s stop trying to train the mass of high school students to become preservation carpenters, and instead make them very good contractors.

My reply:

I would recommend a deeper understanding of computing for the USER.  People don’t have a clue of the very basics of computing.

How many people click on an attachment to save and can never find it again?  People don’t understand the concept of CC vs BCC.  Folks don’t not the difference between  an Operating System, a browser, and a website.  Learning how to program is NOT something everyone should learn.  Phillips is right on the mark in suggesting we adjust the education system to teach application of encapsulated technology.  A good book on the subject is Daniel Pink’s A While New Mind.

What exactly is an AP class?

Definition: Advanced Placement or AP courses are college-level classes taught on high school campuses. They generally involve significantly more challenging curriculum and more rigorous homework than non-AP classes, and they culminate in a high stakes exam, administered by the College Board on high school campuses in early May.

The spring exam costs around $86 per class, runs two to three hours, and is graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with a 3 constituting a passing grade and a 4 or 5 being even more desirable. Many universities offer course credit for a high score, or allow students to skip the corresponding class in college. APs also give added heft to a college application, because they tell admissions officers that the applicant has taken – and succeeded at – college-level work, and the grades are “weighted,” i.e., a B in an AP class is worth an A in a regular class.

Also Known As: Advanced Placement

Because Jane scored 5s on so many of her AP classes – calculus AB, German, European History and so on – she started college as a second semester freshman.


From the Lake Travis High School 2010-2011 Course Catalog:

Pre-Advanced Placement (Pre-AP) in High School

Students will receive high quality, rigorous instruction in all courses at LTHS. Students may choose to take advanced classes appropriate to their interests and academic strengths. Pre-AP courses are open enrollment and are designed to prepare students to be successful in AP classes. The number of Pre-AP courses varies with the students’ motivation, self-discipline, and available time outside of class. Students are not expected to enroll in Pre-AP courses in all core subject areas.

Recommended Prerequisites include:

  • A grade of 85 or higher in a related academic content area course
  • Scores at the commended level on the most recent corresponding TAKS test

Characteristics of a Successful Pre-AP Student:

  • Excellent study and organizational skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Persistence in pursuing goals
  • A strong sense of responsibility
  • The ability to become an independent learner
  • A desire to be academically successful
  • Proficient oral and written communication skills