Who should take AP classes?

14 Feb

Many schools and parents eagerly await US News’ annual ranking of the best high schools in America. The methodology used to rank the schools, according to US News is:

The first step determined whether each school’s students were performing better than statistically expected for the average student in the state. We started by looking at reading and math results for all students on each state’s high school test…. For those schools that made it past this first step, the second step determined whether the school’s least-advantaged students (black, Hispanic, and low income) were performing better than average for similar students in the state….Schools that made it through the first two steps became eligible to be judged nationally on the final step, college-readiness performance, using Advanced Placement and/or International Baccalaureate test data as the benchmarks for success. (AP is a College Board program that offers college-level courses at high schools across the country.) This third step measured which schools produced the best college-level achievement for the highest percentages of their students.

School rankings are heavily influenced by whether they offer advanced placement or AP courses. Best High School Methodology

AP is a program designed by the College Board, the same organization that designs and administers college entrance exams like the SAT and ACTAP consists of more than 30 courses and exams, which cover a variety of subject areas. The College Board describes the value of AP.

Receive recognition by more than 90 percent of colleges in the United States and colleges in more than 60 other countries, which grant credit, advanced placement or both on the basis of AP Exam grades.

In other words, AP is designed to boast the chances of students in gaining admittance to colleges, especially those colleges who are known to be highly selective. AP Program

AP has been around since about 1957. In 2007, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities did an assessment of AP. One of its findings was:

Research indicates that students who succeed in AP exams are more likely to attend and succeed in college, and these correlations hold for all income levels and racial/ethnic groups. However, it isdifficult to establish a causal link between AP and college success, and there is conflicting evidence as to whether students who take AP courses but do not pass the exams will be more successful in college.

Researchers in Texas have compared the academic Success of entering college students who did not take AP coursework in high school , those who took courses but not the exams, and those who took both the courses and exams. They found that those who took both the courses and exams were most successful in college, and that those who took courses but not exams were more successful than those with no AP coursework. This research is significant because it took into account factors that affect college performance, such as SAT scores and participation in

the Free or Reduced Lunch Program. Yet, it did not control on motivation, which may be is a significant factor in college success. AASU Research

This research seems to say that a highly motivated person will succeed in college whether they have taken AP coursework or not. But, all things being equal, the AP program appears to help children in later academic work. The rigorous curriculum is given as the explanation for later student achievement.

A paper in the Southern Economic Journal by Klopfenstein and others looks at the link between AP coursework and college success.

Our research finds no conclusive evidence that, for the average student, AP experience has a causal impact on early college success. Our findings support a clear distinction between courses that are “college preparatory” and those that are “college level.” The former type of course emphasizes the development of skills needed to succeed in college, such as note taking, study skills, and intellectual discipline; the latter type assumes that such skills are already in place. At-risk high school students particularly benefit from skills-based instruction, including “how to study, how to approach academic tasks, what criteria will be applied, and how to evaluate their own and others’ work,” where writing and revising are ongoing…. It is important to recognize that prediction and causality are not the same, and that the practice of placing extraordinary weight on AP participation in the college admissions process absent evidence of human capital gains from program participation distorts incentives. Our research finds that AP course-taking alone may be predictive of college success, a finding that is consistent with College Board research by Dodd et al. (2007) but casts doubt on the notion that AP participation imparts a positive causal impact on college performance for the typical student. …

This report seems to conclude that the reason AP students are successful is that they are highly motivated to succeed and achieve. Southern Economic Journal

For a good overview of why students take AP courses, see Grace Chen’s article, How AP Classes Benefit a Public School Student’s Future:

 According to the College Board, over 90 percent of colleges and universities in the United States will grant students college credit for AP coursework and passing test scores. With this college credit, students will be able to save, in many cases, thousands of dollars on waived course costs. For example, if a student passes the AP English Literature exam, then he or she will commonly be excused from taking the introductory college literature class required by the institution. With the ability to skip over basic courses, students are opened to a plethora of benefits, some of which include:  

·         Saved tuition costs, as each AP test costs less than $90 (while each college class can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars)

·         With skipped courses, students have more time to pursue a double major, participate in study abroad opportunities or internships

·         Enjoy a more flexible college experience, as students’ schedules will be free from the basic, mandatory curriculum prerequisites

·         Students with enough AP credit can often graduate in a shorter period of time than students without AP credit

AP courses tend to attract students who are preparing for college and are very goal oriented. So, what if a student either doesn’t want to go to college or may want a career, should they take AP courses? Since the average person, according to Career Information Online will have three to five careers over the course of a life time, the best advice to everyone is prepare for any eventuality. Even if students don’t attend college after high school, they may attend later as part of a career change. Many former automobile workers are now getting college degrees in nursing and other fields, for example.

Huffington Post is reporting in the article, AP Exams: Most Students Who Should Be Taking The Tests Aren’t:

More than 60 percent of students considered to have AP potential didn’t take the exam last year, even though their PSAT scores showed they could perform well on one, according to a College Board report released last week. Overall, black, Latino and Native American students were less likely to take AP exams than their white and Asian counterparts.

“AP potential” as defined by the College Board is a 70 percent or greater likelihood that a student will score a 3 (out of 5) or higher on an AP exam. The “potential” is calculated based on more than 2 million public school PSAT/NMSQT takers in the class of 2011.

Of those, nearly 771,000 graduates were classified as having AP potential, but nearly 478,000 — about 62 percent — did not take a recommended AP subject. The study points out that underserved minorities were disproportionately impacted: 74 percent of Native American students, 80 percent of black students and 70 percent of Hispanic students did not take recommended AP subject tests. A majority of Asian students with AP potential took the exams — 42 percent did not — and 62 percent of white students with AP potential didn’t take the exams.

This year’s report echoes findings from last year’s, as the College Board report last February revealed that while the number of minority students taking the exam has increased, it is still disproportionately low. To add to that, those groups are also still struggling to excel in performance: Of the half million students who passed an AP exam in 2010, just 14.6 percent were Hispanic or Latino. Only 3.9 percent of passing students were black….

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/13/ap-exams-most-students-wh_n_1273980.html?ref=email_share

The question is not only should a particular student should take AP courses, but whether the choice should be between AP courses or an International Baccalaureate

Tamar Lewin has a great article in the New York Times which describes the International Baccalaureate program. In International Program Catches On In U.S. Schools Lewin reports:      

The alphabet soup of college admissions is getting more complicated as the International Baccalaureate, or I.B., grows in popularity as an alternative to the better-known Advanced Placement program.

The College Board’s A.P. program, which offers a long menu of single-subject courses, is still by far the most common option for giving students a head start on college work, and a potential edge in admissions.

The lesser-known I.B., a two-year curriculum developed in the 1960s at an international school in Switzerland, first took hold in the United States in private schools. But it is now offered in more than 700 American high schools — more than 90 percent of them public schools — and almost 200 more have begun the long certification process.

Many parents, schools and students see the program as a rigorous and more internationally focused curriculum, and a way to impress college admissions officers.

To earn an I.B. diploma, students must devote their full junior and senior years to the program, which requires English and another language, math, science, social science and art, plus a course on theory of knowledge, a 4,000-word essay, oral presentations and community service….

Our students don’t have as much diversity as people in some other areas, so this makes them open their eyes,” said Deb Pinkham, the program’s English teacher.

The I.B. program is used in 139 countries, and its international focus has drawn criticism from some quarters.

Some parents say it is anti-American and too closely tied to both the United Nations and radical environmentalism. From its start in 1968 until 1976, the program was financed partly by Unesco. It is now associated with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and until recently it endorsed the Earth Charter, a declaration of principles of sustainability that originated at the United Nations.

When there is a program at the school with a specific agenda, which in this case is the United Nations agenda, I have a problem with it,” said Ann Marie Banfield, who unsuccessfully opposed the adoption of the I.B. program in Bedford, N.H.

Others object to its cost — the organization charges $10,000 a year per school, $141 per student and $96 per exam — and say it is neither as effective as the A.P. program nor likely to reach as many students.

We have 337 kids, and 80 of them take at least one of our 16 A.P. classes,” said John Eppolito, a parent who opposes the planned introduction of the I.B. in Incline Village, Nev. “If we switched to the I.B., the district estimates that 15 kids would get a I.B. diploma in two years.”

I.B. opponents have created a Web site, truthaboutib.com, to serve as a clearinghouse for their views.

Many schools, and many parents, see the I.B. partly as a way to show college admissions offices that students have chosen a rigorous program, with tests graded by I.B. examiners around the world. …[Emphasis Added]

One of the educators interviewed in the Lewin article observed that the IB program might be better suited for kids who are more creative and either are not as good or do not like to memorize. There shouldn’t be a one size fits all in education and parents should be honest about what education options will work for a particular child. Even children from the same family may find that different education options will work for each child.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

 

4 Responses to “Who should take AP classes?”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Study: High school students enrolled in college courses more likely to complete college « drwilda - October 18, 2012

    […] Who should take AP classes?                                              https://drwilda.com/2012/02/14/who-should-take-ap-classes […]

  2. Stanford University report: Advanced placement may not be the cure for education ills | drwilda - April 30, 2013

    […] AP courses tend to attract students who are preparing for college and are very goal oriented. So, what if a student either doesn’t want to go to college or may want a career, should they take AP courses? Since the average person, according to Career Information Online will have three to five careers over the course of a life time, the best advice to everyone is prepare for any eventuality. Even if students don’t attend college after high school, they may attend later as part of a career change. Many former automobile workers are now getting college degrees in nursing and other fields, for example. The College Board releases an annual report about the AP test. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/14/who-should-take-ap-classes/https://drwilda.com/tag/how-ap-classes-benefit-a-public-school-students-future/ […]

  3. drwilda - June 5, 2013

    […] The question is not only should a particular student should take AP courses, but whether the choice should be between AP courses or an International Baccalaureate. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/14/who-should-take-ap-classes/ […]

  4. Cambridge International Exams trying to make inroads into AP and International Baccalaureate turf | drwilda - December 11, 2013

    […] The question is not only should a particular student should take AP courses, but whether the choice should be between AP courses or an International Baccalaureate. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/14/who-should-take-ap-classes/ […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: