Republic of Scarsdale?
It's no new news that Scarsdale, NY has long disdained tests and suffered from an inflated ego on this topic as well. Its latest ploy to distinguish itself from the pack? Drop the plebian Advanced Placement curriculum in favor of a more patrician alternative, "Advanced Topics." The actual switch happened about a year ago, but Scarsdale is only just now getting into the swing of these new classes. The district claims that they will give teachers and students greater freedom to dig deep into subject matter (string theory! larger art canvases!) without the pesky prescriptions of an AP course and upcoming exam. "If the people called [AP] a gold curriculum in the past, I refer to this version as the platinum curriculum," brags Scarsdale High principal John Klemme. But what's shiny in Scarsdale looks awfully dull to College Board Vice President Trevor Packer: "[t]o us, their courses don't look any different from high-quality A.P. courses. Simply changing the letters on the course from A.P. to A.T. looks very cosmetic." To top it off, Scarsdale is still sending its "AT" syllabi to the College Board for review under AP standards. But while Scarsdale may think itself too good for the likes of AP, let's not get carried away. The AP standard is a high one--and not to be scoffed at by the likes of a snooty New York suburb to the detriment of other districts looking for high quality content. Scarsdale, you can call it Advanced Topics, we call it Advanced Obnoxious.
"Scarsdale Adjusts to Life Without Advanced Placement Courses," by Winnie Hu, New York Times, December 7, 2008
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