College Board: AP Report to the Nation
As usual, the College Board’s latest annual report on enrollment and achievement in the prestigious Advanced Placement program paints an overall rosy picture. (The College Board, remember, has a major vested interest in both the reputation and expansion of the AP program and is famously resistant to external analyses of its data.) Since 2001, the national passing rate (a score of three or higher) has bumped almost 8 percentage points—and twenty-two states boast even larger gains. In fact, more graduates are passing AP tests today than took them a decade ago. (Note that this report doesn’t hit on whether the quality of the exams has remained steadfast.) Yet some problems persist—especially surrounding access to the AP for those in rural and urban areas, as well as for minorities writ large. Four out of five African American students who had at least a 70 percent chance of passing an AP exam (based on PSAT scores, according to a College Board algorithm, aptly dubbed “AP Potential”) either didn’t enroll in the relevant AP course or attended a school where the course was not offered. To counter this predicament, the Board offers tips for schools, districts, states, and universities, most of which are vapid and obvious (“provide funding incentives to subsidize fees for AP STEM exams” or “offer emotional and academic support to students through targeted peer mentoring”). Digital learning—and the potentials it brings to efficiently and effectively open AP access to those in traditionally hard-to-reach schools—is overlooked as an option. As are the growing pains inevitable with such a rapidly expanding program. According to our own survey of AP teachers, overall program quality remains strong—but storm clouds are amassing on the horizon: Over half of AP teachers believe that students overestimate their abilities and are in over their heads. Smart expansion and inclusion must surely be fought for. But let’s make sure this doesn’t come at the expense of those most ready for challenging coursework.
The College Board, AP Report to the Nation (Washington, D.C.: The College Board, February 2012.)
Category: Standards, Testing, & Accountability
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