Jay Mathews of the Washington Post and Checker Finn of Fordham Foundation debate: Is AP Good for Everyone?
Mathews: Without IB or AP exams that cannot be dumbed down, high school classes fail to challenge over the long haul. Maybe in a decade or two we will fix that, but we will have failed in the meantime another generation. I am surprised that your talent for detecting nonsense did not react to the dismissive reference to: “big enrollment bulges [which] occur in what these teachers characterized as the easy AP courses (e.g. psychology, human geography).” These teachers are saying, in essence, that it is bad to encourage an average student to take even a relatively easy college intro course in high school. . . . These are the same courses they would get as college freshmen, but in topics that interest them and can make high school a much more invigorating place. . . .
Finn: That’s like saying everyone should concentrate on eating dessert because we can’t figure out how to serve palatable vegetables, meats and fruits. You are, in effect, giving up on the entire high school curriculum except AP and IB.
I basically side with Mathews, but I’m concerned about schools dumbing down AP classes by ignoring low pass rates on the exam — are the A and B students getting 1’s and 2’s? — or by letting students skip the AP exam.