What the AP program can’t do

Mar 10, 2013 by

By Jack Schneider –

To many in the world of education reform, the latest AP Report to the Nation—released recently by the College Board—is cause for celebration on two fronts. The first achievement has to do with equity. During the program’s early history in the 1960s, Advanced Placement courses were generally populated by white students. Even as recently as the mid-1990s, 80 percent of AP exams were taken by whites or Asians. Today, however, roughly a third of students participating in the program are non-Asian students of color. And that number is growing every year.

The second achievement has to do with teaching and learning. By the twenty-first century, AP was being assailed by its critics for failing to evolve. While college professors increasingly guided students through closer examinations of subjects with an orientation toward critical thinking and hands-on work, the AP Program continued to emphasize survey-style coverage and content memorization. This latest report, however, details a course and exam redesign that brings AP back in line with “current practices in college instruction.” And according to the College Board, changes in all subject areas will be substantial.

Both of these developments are the result of hard work, financial commitment (the Department of Education alone has spent a quarter of a billion dollars on its AP Incentive Program), and concerted efforts by all parties involved to promote the twin aims of equity and excellence.

The problem, however, is that AP can do very little to actually realize those aims.

via What the AP program can’t do.

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