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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

'Tis better to have tried AP and earned a low grade than never to have tried at all

Taking an Advanced Placement class, struggling with college-level material and earning a low grade on the exam is a learning experience, argues Jay Mathews in the Washington Post. Many more students from low-income families are taking AP courses, in part due to Mathews' 25-year-old AP Index, which ranks high schools by the percentage of students taking AP exams. However, most don't score well enough to earn college credit. That's OK he writes.


Sixty percent of AP exams taken by low-income students result in scores of 1 or 2, the equivalent of an F or D, reports the New York Times.


Students who earn less than a 3 see no benefit, because they "leave the courses with neither a college credit nor, presumably, a firm understanding of college-level material,” editorializes the Washington Post.


That's not true, writes Mathews. "AP students with average scores of 1 or 2 on their AP exams were 16 and 19 percentage points, respectively, more likely to enroll in a four-year college than academically similar peers who did not take AP," according to a College Board study. In addition, students who scored a 2 had "higher grades in college introductory courses than similar college students who did not take an AP course in that subject."


AP students take a three-hour exam with challenging essay questions, he writes. The tests are graded by someone who's never met them, so there's no favoritism. It's tough -- and it's preparation for the challenges they'll face in college.


Teenagers learn to try, fail, learn from failure and eventually succeed when they play video games, writes Mathews. They can do that in academic subjects too.


"Kind teachers have long tried to encourage struggling students by giving them grades better than they deserved," he concludes. "But many of us who have had to deal with a disappointing grade know the result is often that we try harder, and thus learn more."

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9 comentários


berniegifford
15 de fev.

This explains why many math teachers have argued against limiting enrollment in AP courses to students predicted to pass these classes with an AP grade higher than 3!


In some school districts, students are barred from enrolling in AP Classes unless they are highly likely to secure a score of 4 on their AP Exam.

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Bill Parker
Bill Parker
16 de fev.
Respondendo a

Many colleges these days will only give credit for scores of 4 or 5 on the AP exam, esp. in Calculus

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linda.g.oc
14 de fev.

No; absolutely not. The only kids who should be taking APs are kids who are realistically likely to get at least a 3 on the exam; otherwise they can’t really be taught at a college level. It should go without saying that the HS grades awarded should correlate well with the eventual AP test scores; meaning that unprepared kids should be at C level and below.


Honors level is where the next group of kids belong; as opposed to “regular” college prep and is appropriately challenging for such kids. The idea that only APs can be challenging is ridiculous. A course at any level can and should be challenging for kids appropriately placed at that level.


I am still i…


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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
17 de fev.
Respondendo a

This last point is important. We would just classify the children comprehensively (which is inevitable in small schools, which can only form one class per grade level), and differentiate teaching within groups inside that classroom, at least from the middle years onward.

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buy
14 de fev.

But! blah blah blah disparate impact blah blah blah...

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