Tag Archives: Southern Economic Journal

Stanford University report: Advanced placement may not be the cure for education ills

30 Apr

 

Moi wrote about doubts concerning the rush toward advanced placement classes in An interesting critique of the College Board’s AP test report:

 

Moi wrote in Who should take AP classes?

 

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

 

 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

 

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/

 

A Stanford University report challenges some of the basic assumptions about advanced placement classes.

 

 

Valerie Strauss posts in the Washington Post article, AP program isn’t all it’s cracked up to be — study:

 

 

A new study from Stanford University that reviews research on the Advanced Placement program of college-level high school courses concludes that the common wisdom about AP — including about how much benefit students get from it  — is not accurate.

 

The white paper challenges these four basic common assumptions about AP:

 

  • The AP program  gives students several advantages in terms of college

  • The AP program helps to narrow achievement gaps

  • AP programs enrich students’ high school experiences

  • Schools with AP programs are better than schools without AP programs

 

The review of existing research on the AP program was undertaken by Denise Pope with Madeline Levine, both co-founders of Challenge Success, a research-based organization at Stanford University that develops holistic curriculum, conferences and other programs for parents, schools and students.  Pope is also a senior lecturer at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/26/study-ap-program-isnt-all-its-cracked-up-to-be/

 

The report, “The Advanced Placement Program: Living Up to Its Promise?” makes the following suggestions for teachers and students:

 

 

Suggestions for Students

 

Before enrolling in an AP class, carefully consider your reasons for doing so. There are several good reasons to take an AP course: you are passionate about the subject; you want to be in a small rigorous class with motivated, engaged students and a highly knowledgeable, prepared teacher; and you are willing and prepared to put in the extra time and effort.

 

 

Don’t take AP courses just to get into college. While many elite colleges will expect applicants to have enrolled in rigorous and challenging courses, particularly in subject areas of interest to the student, AP enrollment alone will not guarantee your college admission. Moreover, taking AP courses and doing poorly because you are taking them for the wrong reasons or are not interested in the subject or are in over your head or are spread too thin will not reflect well upon you, nor will taking AP courses that cause undue stress, limit your ability to participate in other meaningful activities, or impact your ability to get enough sleep each night. It’s best to enroll in AP courses only in areas that are of real interest to you and in which you are prepared and able to work hard.

 

 

Do your homework ahead of time. Know that not all AP courses are the same, even within the same subject. In spite of the common curriculum, courses vary between schools and between teachers. Avail yourself of older or experienced students, guidance counselors, information nights, and teacher expertise. Gather as much information from them as possible so that you have realistic expectations about the course content, expectations, quality, and workload.

 

 Understand how colleges award credit for AP courses. Policies for awarding credit vary between colleges and universities and even within universities, between departments. Some colleges may award college credit for passing scores (though what constitutes a passing score varies between institutions); others may not award credit but will allow students to forego prerequisite courses; while others still may not even allow students to opt out of introductory level courses. Furthermore, many students feel that it is valuable to repeat coursework in college even if they took the equivalent AP courses in high school and earned passing scores on their AP exams.

 

 

If you are enrolled in an AP course and it is not going well, get help. Perhaps you’ve just hit a difficult topic and you need a little extra support, or perhaps you are in over your head and need to find a way to get out of the course. Talk with your teachers, guidance counselors, and principals. They will be able to help you formulate the best strategy.

 

 

If you are deeply interested in a subject but do not have AP courses available to you, explore other avenues. Look into your school’s honors courses or find out if you can enroll in a course at a local college. If you take a rigorous, advanced course and are then interested in taking the AP exam, you may. Students can take AP exams even when they aren’t enrolled in an official AP course.

 

 

If you are interested in taking the AP exam but cannot afford it, do not be deterred. Financial assistance is available. Visit the College Board website.

 

Suggestions for Educators

 

If you are considering implementing an AP program in your school, consider the level of readiness and preparation of all involved. Do students and teachers have the background and support necessary to succeed? Are students in an AP program likely to thrive without the program being too big of a drain on the non-AP students? Take a hard look at the potential costs: teachers will require ongoing professional development, non-AP students will likely be in larger classes, non-AP course offerings might be reduced, and non-AP students may have less access to the best teachers in the school. Think carefully about whether it might be a better allocation of resources to invest in improving all existing classes and working with teachers to differentiate instruction for all learners.

 

 

Know that in places where the AP program is being effectively used as a tool for school reform and increasing student achievement, the AP is but one part of a larger reform effort. Effective programs such as the National Math + Science Initiative not only provide access to and encourage enrollment in AP courses, they provide many supports such as funding, teacher training, and student tutoring, which are all crucial to the program’s success.

 

 

If you are assessing an existing AP program in your school, pay attention to how many students are passing the AP exams. As noted in one study above, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing if some students are earning scores of 1 or 2 on AP exams. Perhaps these students were still exposed to a level of rigor that they might otherwise not have been, or perhaps the program is new and the kinks are still getting worked out. We suggest if the majority of AP students are not able to earn passing grades on the exams, check both the rigor level of the course and whether the teachers and students are prepared for this type of course and assessment. Make sure that the course curriculum is adequate for cultivating a deep understanding of the subject matter. It might be that the curriculum is not well aligned with the test or with the needs of your students.

 

 

Invite students (and their parents) interested in AP courses to attend an AP information session that provides an overview of your school’s AP program, course requirements and expectations, and a discussion of the commitment involved. Teachers from each department should be available to answer questions and provide information including course syllabi, sample assignments, and any expectations for summer work. In an effort to make sure students have given serious and realistic thought to their obligations and time management, consider also requiring students to get permission/signatures from parents, counselors, and teachers for each AP course in which they wish to enroll. Download our free scheduling tool to help facilitate better course scheduling and time management.

 

 

Establish an open enrollment policy, and make AP classes available to all students who have an interest in taking them, not just top-tier students. Students can benefit from the AP for various reasons including their passion for a topic, the need for a challenge, or the exposure to what it means to do college-level coursework. However, along with open enrollment, consider creating a safety net for students in serious academic trouble who may need to be re-assigned mid-semester, so that they have an option other than failure. Some schools have had success when they combine AP and non-AP sections together in one classroom, where AP students do supplemental reading, research, and writing and meet a few additional times to prepare for the test. This way all students may benefit from increased rigor and better teaching.                      http://www.challengesuccess.org

 

© 2013 Challenge Success

 

For Further Information

 

Challenge Success offers parenting classes and professional

 

development workshops specifically on improving curriculum and assessment, as well as other issues that concern parents and schools. Please consider making a donation to Challenge Success to support our work so that we can continue to keep you informed on improving school practices. For more information please visit us at our website.

 

Assuming your school has an effective process for course enrollment that includes consultation with teachers and guidance counselors, and assuming you also have a safety net in place that allows for course re-assignment midstream if students need to transfer out of AP courses, don’t cap or limit the number of AP classes in which students are permitted to enroll. We have found that there is no magic number or formula for determining the optimal number of AP courses for students. As mentioned above, our research shows that stress levels in students are not necessarily correlated to the number of AP classes they take. Some students will be able to handle a few AP courses at once and the homework load that accompanies them; while others will be unduly stressed by taking only one AP course (Challenge Success, 2011). Rarely do we see students who can handle 4 or 5 AP courses at once who are still able to participate in extracurricular activities and get the sleep they need, but setting general caps may not work as well as helping each student find the right courses and challenge levels that will allow for optimal learning.

 

 

Don’t confuse AP rigor with load. We have seen several successful teachers who can curb the homework load in their AP courses without sacrificing test scores. Just because a course is rigorous and offers college-level work, does not mean that students need to complete hours and hours of homework each night to succeed. Students may benefit more from fewer assignments and a focus on deep understanding of concepts learned in class. Some teachers offer an AP course over two years instead of one, in order to make the load more manageable for students. For more on how to make homework more effective and meaningful, see our Challenge Success white paper, “Changing the conversation about homework from quantity and achievement to quality and engagement.”

 

 

Whatever your school decides about its AP policies and offerings, make sure that the School Profile that accompanies every college application accurately reflects your school’s policies and most current offerings so that colleges will know how to interpret a student’s choices.

 

Citation:

 

“The Advanced Placement Program:
Living Up to Its Promise?”

Download it for Free.

 

 

There is an “arms race” going on in American Education. More people are asking whether college is the right choice for many. The U.S. has de-emphasized high quality vocational and technical training in the rush to increase the number of students who proceed to college in pursuit of a B.A. Often a graduate degree follows. The Harvard paper, Pathways to Prosperity argues for more high quality vocational and technical opportunities:

 

The implication of this work is that a focus on college readiness alone does not equip young people with all of the skills and abilities they will need in the workplace, or to successfully complete the transition from adolescence to adulthood. This was highlighted in a 2008 report published by Child Trends, which compared research on the competencies required for college readiness, workplace readiness and healthy youth development. The report found significant overlaps. High personal expectations, self-management, critical thinking, and academic achievement are viewed as highly important for success in all three areas. But the report also uncovered some striking differences. For instance: while career planning, previous work experience, decision making, listening skills, integrity, and creativity are all considered vital in the workplace, they hardly figure in college readiness.                                                                               http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news_events/features/2011/Pathways_to_Prosperity_Feb2011.pdf

 

There is a reluctance to promote vocational opportunities in the U.S. because the is a fear of tracking individuals into vocational training and denying certain groups access to a college education. The compromise could be a combination of both quality technical training with a solid academic foundation. Individuals may have a series of careers over the course of a career and a solid foundation which provides a degree of flexibility is desired for survival in the future. See, Why go to college? https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/why-go-to-college/

 

Related:

 

Poor people and school choice: The Cristo Rey work/school model https://drwilda.com/2013/01/22/poor-people-and-school-choice-the-cristo-rey-work-schoolmodel/

 

Study: What skills are needed for ’21st-century learning?’ https://drwilda.com/2012/07/11/study-what-skills-are-needed-for-21st-century-learning/

 

Critical thinking is an essential trait of an educated person https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/critical-thinking-is-an-essential-trait-of-an-educated-person/

 

Borrowing from work: Schools teach career mapping https://drwilda.com/2012/03/24/borrowing-from-work-schools-teach-career-mapping/

 

 

 

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An interesting critique of the College Board’s AP test report

10 Mar

Moi wrote in Who should take AP classes?

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

 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

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/

Here is a portion of the College Board press release about The 9th Annual AP Report to the Nation:

Class of 2012 Advanced Placement® Results Announced

While Participation and Performance Increased Compared to the Class of 2011, Many High School Students with Potential for Success in College-Level AP® Courses Still Lack Access

02/20/2013

NEW YORK — Ensuring that all academically prepared high school students have access to rigorous college-level course work that will enable them to persist in and graduate from college is critical for the United States to remain competitive in a global economy — particularly in crucial STEM-related disciplines. Educators are increasingly adopting the rigorous standards found within the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) to help the nation’s high school students develop the critical thinking, reasoning and communication skills that are essential for college success.

Data released today by the College Board as part of The 9th Annual AP Report to the Nation revealed that more high school graduates are participating — and succeeding — in college-level AP courses and exams than ever before. Succeeding in AP is defined as achieving a score of 3 or higher on the five-point AP Exam scale, which is the score needed for credit, advanced placement or both at the majority of colleges and universities.

By exposing students to college-level work while still in high school, Advanced Placement dramatically improves college completion rates,” said David Coleman, President of the College Board. “Today we applaud those educators who have worked tirelessly to bring the power of AP to more communities and more students than ever before. But we must not forget the hundreds of thousands of students with the potential to succeed in Advanced Placement who don’t even have access to its coursework.  If we hope to achieve our long-term college completion goals, we must ensure that every student has access to a rigorous education.”

Among the class of 2012:

  • The number of high school graduates taking AP Exams increased to 954,070, (32.4%), up from 904,794 (30.2%) among the class of 2011 and 471,404 (18.0%) in 2002 among the class of 2002.
  • The number of high school graduates scoring a 3 or higher increased to 573,472 (19.5%), up from 541,000 (18.1%) among the class of 2011 and 305,098 (11.6%) among the class of 2002.

Current research on AP course work confirms AP’s comparability to introductory college courses in content, skills and learning outcomes. Research consistently shows that students earning placement into advanced course work based on AP Exam scores perform as well as — or better than — students who have completed the introductory course at a college or university. In fact, students who succeed on an AP Exam during high school typically experience greater overall academic success in college, and are more likely than their non-AP peers to graduate from college and to graduate on time, experiencing lower college costs than the majority of American college students.

However, this is not the full story. Data from The 9th Annual AP Report to the Nation also indicate that hundreds of thousands of academically prepared students with the potential to succeed in AP — including a disproportionately large percentage of underserved minority students — are graduating from high school without having participated in AP.

A Right to Rigor: Fulfilling Student Potential

All students who are academically prepared for the intellectual demands of college-level AP course work during high school — no matter their location, background or socioeconomic status — have a right to fulfill that potential.

Among the class of 2012, more than 300,000 students identified as having a high likelihood of success in AP did not take any recommended AP Exam. Such “AP potential” is defined as a 60 percent or greater probability of scoring a 3 or higher on an AP Exam based on a student’s performance on specific sections of the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®). These data revealed significant inequities in AP participation along racial/ethnic lines, with underserved minority students who demonstrated readiness for AP much less likely than their similarly prepared white and Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander peers to experience AP course work.

Among the contributing factors, a significant cause for this disparity is the lower availability of a variety of AP courses in schools with higher numbers of low-income and traditionally underserved minority students….

Collaborating to Promote STEM Education

While the challenge to improve equity and access applies to all AP courses, its importance is amplified among the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines. Research shows that students who took college-level AP math or science exams during high school were more likely than non-AP students to earn degrees in physical science, engineering and life science disciplines — the fields leading to some of the careers essential for the nation’s future prosperity.

In the last decade, the number of students graduating from high school having taken an AP math or science exam has nearly doubled, from 250,465 in the class of 2002 to 497,924 in the class of 2012 (see Figure 8). However, among students with comparable levels of readiness for AP STEM course work, participation rates vary significantly by race/ethnicity and gender. Six in 10 Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander students with a 60 percent or higher likelihood of succeeding on an AP mathematics exam took the exam, compared to 4 in 10 white students, 3 in 10 black/African American students, 3 in 10 Hispanic/Latino students, and 2 in 10 American Indian/Alaska Native students. In most AP STEM subjects, female students participate at lower rates than male students….

In December 2012, the College Board announced the creation of the AP STEM Access program — made possible through a $5 million Global Impact Award from Google to DonorsChoose.org — to increase the number of traditionally underrepresented minority and female high school students who participate in AP STEM courses. Through this program, 800 public high schools across the country are being invited to start new AP math and science courses, with an emphasis on encouraging traditionally underrepresented minority and female students who demonstrate academic potential to enroll and explore these areas of study and related careers.

Supporting 3 Goals Critical to College Readiness

At its core, AP is a collaboration among college faculty and administrators, states, districts, schools, and teachers working together to provide academically ready students with the access to the rigor they deserve. The 9th Annual AP Report to the Nation shows that success stories exist and can be brought to scale. Three critical areas for addressing challenges to access are increasing rigor, promoting equity, and developing critical knowledge and skills.

1.      Increasing Rigor

In order for more students to succeed in college, they need preparation for and access to demanding college-level work while still in high school. Since 2002, there has been a 7.9 point increase in the percentage of U.S. public high school graduates scoring a 3 or higher on an AP Exam. Among the class of 2012, 19.5 percent of U.S. public high school graduates scored a 3 or higher on an AP Exam during high school, with 17 states exceeding the national average. Once again, Maryland led all other states in the percentage of its public high school graduates scoring a 3 or higher on an AP Exam.

Top 10 States in Percentage of 2012 Public High School Graduates Succeeding on AP Exam

  1. Maryland (29.6%)
  2. New York (28.0%)
  3. Massachusetts (27.9%)
  4. Florida (27.3%)
  5. Virginia (27.2%)
  6. Connecticut (26.9%)
  7. Maine (24.8%)
  8. California (24.7%)
  9. Colorado (24.2%)
  10. Vermont (22.8%)

2.      Promoting Equity

The AP Program is committed to increasing student diversity in AP classrooms, while simultaneously increasing AP success, to ensure that the demographics of both AP participation and success reflect the demographics of the overall student population. Though challenges remain, progress is being made to close equity gaps in AP participation and success among underserved minority and low-income students. Consider the following:

  • 30 states made progress over the past year in closing both AP participation and success gaps among black/African American students (see Figure 6a).
  • 17 states and the District of Columbia made progress over the past year in closing both AP participation and success gaps among Hispanic/Latino students (see Figure 6b).
  • Low-income graduates accounted for 26.6% of those who took at least one AP Exam in the class of 2012, compared to 11.5% of AP Exam takers in the class of 2003.
  • More than 250,000 low-income graduates in the class of 2012 took at least one AP Exam during high school, more than four times as many low-income graduates who took an AP Exam in the class of 2003.

3.      Developing Critical Knowledge and Skills

AP courses are designed by college and university faculty based on well-defined goals for student learning that give specially trained AP teachers a clear understanding of what students should know and be able to do by the end of the course. AP students develop their knowledge of key concepts and skills at the heart of comparable introductory college courses, including critical analysis and writing skills. Figures 8 and 9 of the report (pages 26–27) show the participation, success and score distributions among the class of 2012 across the three AP discipline groupings: math and science; English, history and social science; and arts and world languages.

AP Course and Exam Redesign

College faculty have played an integral role in the AP Program’s comprehensive course redesign to ensure that each Advanced Placement course and exam deepens the focus on critical thinking and reflects the most recent developments in each discipline. The involvement of university professors ensures that AP courses and exams are directly aligned with the same content and skills learned in introductory college courses.

With agreement among colleges and universities regarding the knowledge and skills that students need to cultivate through AP course work in order to qualify for credit and placement, the AP course redesign is enabling AP teachers and students time to explore key concepts in greater depth by reducing the amount of content coverage required….

The 9th Annual AP Report to the Nation is available at apreport.collegeboard.org.

Follow Trevor Packer on Twitter: @AP_Trevor

About the College Board

The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of over 6,000 of the world’s leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success — including the SAT® and the Advanced Placement Program®. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and schools. For further information, visit www.collegeboard.org.

Media Inquiries:
College Board Communications
212-713-8052/communications@collegeboard.org
 

https://press.collegeboard.org/releases/2013/class-2012-advanced-placement-results-announced

Jack Schneider has an interesting critique of the report at the Washington Post’s blog, The Answer Sheet.

In the article, What the AP program can’t do, Schneider opines:

To many in the world of education reform, the latest AP Report to the Nation—released recently by the College Board—is cause for celebration on two fronts. The first achievement has to do with equity.  During the program’s early history in the 1960s, Advanced Placement courses were generally populated by white students.  Even as recently as the mid-1990s, 80 percent of AP exams were taken by whites or Asians.  Today, however, roughly a third of students participating in the program are non-Asian students of color.  And that number is growing every year.

The second achievement has to do with teaching and learning.  By the twenty-first century, AP was being assailed by its critics for failing to evolve.  While college professors increasingly guided students through closer examinations of subjects with an orientation toward critical thinking and hands-on work, the AP Program continued to emphasize survey-style coverage and content memorization.  This latest report, however, details a course and exam redesign that brings AP back in line with “current practices in college instruction.”  And according to the College Board, changes in all subject areas will be substantial.

Both of these developments are the result of hard work, financial commitment (the Department of Education alone has spent a quarter of a billion dollars on its AP Incentive Program), and concerted efforts by all parties involved to promote the twin aims of equity and excellence.

The problem, however, is that AP can do very little to actually realize those aims….

Consider the effort to promote equity through AP.  For decades, reformers tried to use the program as a lever for giving under-served students a college admissions edge.  After all, in the last decades of the twentieth century, colleges and universities looked favorably on students with AP courses on their transcripts.  But most AP courses were taught at private and suburban schools.  Consequently, reformers sought to extend the AP Program, believing they could level the playing field by providing equal access to an elite brand.  Yet, as I have written elsewhere, the expansion of the AP Program failed to promote real parity between the educational haves and have-nots.  Because once the AP Program reached a critical mass, it lost its functionality as a mark of distinction.  Soon, scores of colleges and universities (Dartmouth being the latest) revised their policies around awarding credit for AP coursework or favoring it in admissions reviews.  And ultimately, elite suburban and private schools began to drop the program, calling it outdated, overly-restrictive, and too oriented toward multiple choice tests.  Thus, while students at Garfield High in East Los Angeles were for a short time doing the same work as students at Andover, the aim of equity proved a noble and elusive dream. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/03/09/what-the-ap-program-cant-do/

Moi wrote in The International Baccalaureate program and vocational students:

There is an “arms race” going on in American Education. More people are asking whether college is the right choice for many. The U.S. has de-emphasized high quality vocational and technical training in the rush to increase the number of students who proceed to college in pursuit of a B.A. Often a graduate degree  follows. The Harvard paper, Pathways to Prosperity argues for more high quality vocational and technical opportunities:

The implication of this work is that a focus on college readiness alone does not equip young people with all of

the skills and abilities they will need in the workplace, or to successfully complete the transition from adolescence

to adulthood. This was highlighted in a 2008 report published by Child Trends, which compared research on the competencies required for college readiness, workplace readiness and healthy youth development. The report found significant overlaps. High personal expectations, self-management, critical thinking, and academic achievement are viewed as highly important for success in all three areas. But the report also uncovered some striking differences. For instance: while career planning, previous work experience, decision making, listening skills, integrity, and creativity are all considered vital in the workplace, they hardly figure in college readiness.

http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news_events/features/2011/Pathways_to_Prosperity_Feb2011.pdf

There is a reluctance to promote vocational opportunities in the U.S. because the is a fear of tracking individuals into vocational training and denying certain groups access to a college education. The comprise could be a combination of both quality technical training with a solid academic foundation. Individuals may have a series of careers over the course of a career and a solid foundation which provides a degree of flexibility is desired for survival in the future. See, Why go to college? https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/why-go-to-college/

https://drwilda.com/2011/11/29/the-international-baccalaureate-program-and-vocational-students/

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