From the article:
“Schools just slap AP on courses to tag them as high-level, even when there’s no Advanced Placement exam in the subject,” Mr. Poch said. “It was getting to be like Kleenex or Xerox.”
But now, for the first time, the College Board is creating a list of classes each school is authorized to call AP and reviewing the syllabuses for those classes. The list, expected in November, is both an effort to protect the College Board brand and an attempt to ensure that Advanced Placement classes cover what college freshmen learn, so colleges can safely award credit to students who do well on AP exams."A little background on AP (Advanced Placement):
"Developed 50 years ago for gifted students in elite high schools, the Advanced Placement program now exists in almost two-thirds of American high schools. In May, about 1.5 million students took 2.5 million Advanced Placement exams, hoping to earn college credit and impress college admissions offices, which often give applicants extra points on the transcript."
"As APs have spread, it has become clear that the name is no guarantee of rigor; an AP course at a wealthy suburban high school may be far more ambitious than one at a poor rural school. And in many struggling high schools, nearly all the students in Advanced Placement classes fail the exam."
"The exams given each May, for $83 apiece, are graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with scores of 3 and up considered passing. But some colleges grant credit only for a 4 or a 5." "The Advanced Placement program is an odd hybrid of exam and coursework. Any student can take any exam, without taking an AP class. And some high schools have dropped AP classes, safe in knowing their students will still do well on AP exams." "Conversely, students who take AP classes need not take the AP exam. Some skip the exams because they know they will fail; others never planned to take the exam, enrolling in the class mostly to look good in the college admissions process."
I'm posting this because (1) many people do not seem to know what AP is and why it is important in a discussion of graduating students to be college-ready and (2) what is and isn't happening in Seattle schools with AP.
So why is it important? One, college admissions officers (look at any college admissions webpage) say they look for rigor and most times that comes in the form of AP or Honors classes. Two, studies have shown that students that attempt an AP class do better in college. Students who take an AP class and pass it do even better in college. Students who take an AP class AND pass the test do even better. This is the basis for why Bellevue School district is pushing every high school student to attempt an AP class. It just seems to be a good preparation for what students will get in college (as do taking Running Start classes).
Okay, so to review. You do NOT have to take an AP class to take an AP test. However, unless you are really getting rigorous coursework in a small class setting (a la Lakeside), it's going to be much more difficult for you to pass the test.
Every single high school in our district has its own AP rules. Meaning, some schools (Hale) don't like AP and are trying to phase it out. Some, like Roosevelt, have many AP courses but their LA department doesn't like it and so no AP English Lit or Language (two of the most popular AP courses in the country; the most popular is AP US History). Some say you have to have a certain grade point average to take it and others are open to any student who wants the challenge. Many say that a student HAS to take the AP test in order to take the AP class. (I think this is because AP requires special teacher training to teach the class.) However, I challenged this notion at Hale because the test costs $83. I asked if there were scholarships or a district way to defray this cost. They never gave me a straight answer ("possibly"). Well, think about it. Can a school really offer a class that has a cost to its outcome and not have some sort of free/reduced lunch aspect to it? This would virtually cut out low-income families and their students from enrolling.
The district, as usual with any topic about advanced learning, does not want to talk about this. But, again, if we are being asked to have our school choices narrowed then the district has to do its part in making sure that all students have options available to them in an equitable fashion.