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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Snobby private schools reject AP

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Eight D.C.-area private schools are dropping Advanced Placement classes in favor of home-grown classes that will “allow for authentic engagement with the world and demonstrate respect for students’ intellectual curiosity and interests.”

For most families, “desperate for quality schooling and solid college prospects for their own children, this whole maneuver looks, well, snobby and smug,” writes Checker Finn.

It’s also slightly off-base and disingenuous. Off-base because, in contrast to the school heads’ assertion that AP courses “emphasize breadth over depth,” the College Board has been systematically overhauling and replacing its thirty-eight AP course frameworks and exams to emphasize concepts and “big ideas” as well as “essential knowledge,” and expects to complete that exacting process just about the same time these elite schools are repudiating Advanced Placement. It’s disingenuous in part because the heads’ statement barely hints at what’s almost certainly their main motive in repudiating AP: Everybody has it nowadays, and it’s essentially free down the street. So offering AP no longer makes their schools distinctive—and worth the hefty cost. They must find other ways to be different.

While some selective colleges don’t give credit for AP scores, nearly all let students who score well skip introductory classes, Finn writes.

Finally, AP exams allow “students’ work—and ultimately their teachers’ effectiveness and their own institutional value-add—to be judged impartially on a national metric that’s retained its rigor in a time of grade inflation and that’s scored anonymously by veteran high school teachers and college professors.”

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