I hope everyone had a good holiday. I am delighted to be back in Georgia after a week slogging through 22 inches of snow visiting family in the Northeast.
If anyone has kept up with education reading, a good debate raged on The New York Times Room for Debate blog about the value and integrity of AP classes. In my past reporting on the boom in AP classes, I have interviewed several of the experts quoted in the blog.
I found that the most consistent research suggested that AP classes were most valuable when the students took the AP test and scored a 3 or better. One of the researchers in the Times piece told me in an interview a few years back that the positive outcome on college performance was only visible in those students who had taken the AP test along with the course. She saw no enhancement in college performance in students who had taken AP classes in high school but had not sat for the AP exams.
(If you read the NYT, you will see that view espoused by several experts.) With my own two teens, I insisted that they take the AP tests if they were in an AP class.
My first inkling of the possible overselling of AP classes came about 10 years ago when I talked to two Georgia Tech math professors who maintained that AP classes were not the equivalent of college classes and that students who came to Tech loaded with math credits from AP classes were not ready for more advanced math. They thought the enthusiasm for AP was a scam to enrich the College Board, which owns the brand and the tests. (That view is voiced in the Times blog.)
Since then, I have heard that sentiment echoed by college professors in other disciplines. I know that many high school teachers say that the quality of AP classes has fallen because too many unqualified kids are being directed to the classes.
But were the courses ever all they were cracked up to be? Were they ever truly the equivalent of a college class?
Rather than push AP classes, is it better to simply let ambitious and able high school students take classes at Tech or GSU, as many of them now do?