top of page
  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Beware of the AP ‘scam’

Advanced Placement is a scam writes John Tierney, who’s taught college and high school, in The Atlantic.

His AP Government and Politics course were nothing like the introductory government courses he taught in college, writes Tierney.

Furthermore, many students who’ve done well on AP exams don’t get college credits, he writes. Instead, colleges let them opt out of introductory courses — which may leave them unprepared for higher-level courses.

As AP courses spread, “increasing numbers of the students who take them are marginal at best, resulting in growing failure rates on the exams,” writes Tierney.

The school where I taught essentially had an open-admissions policy for almost all its AP courses. I would say that two thirds of the students taking my class each year did not belong there. And they dragged down the course for the students who did.

Often AP courses have better teachers and smaller classes, writes Tierney. That means larger classes with weaker teachers for non-AP students. Some schools abolish honors courses to boost their AP bragging rights.

To me, the most serious count against Advanced Placement courses is that the AP curriculum leads to rigid stultification — a kind of mindless genuflection to a prescribed plan of study that squelches creativity and free inquiry. The courses cover too much material and do so too quickly and superficially. . . .  The AP classroom is where intellectual curiosity goes to die.

I’m generally pro-AP, but I worry that schools will slap an “AP” label on courses that don’t prepare students for the exam or college work.

Dual-enrollment courses — sometimes taught by high school teachers — also are growing rapidly in popularity. The promise is that student will get a head start on college-level work and college credits. The question is: Are these really college courses? Some students are finding their dual-enrollment credits won’t transfer.

Should schools back away from AP in favor of . . . what?

5 views0 comments


bottom of page