I've said that many times before on this blog, and I'm not changing my mind today. It just doesn't make sense to. I guess I've been called worse than "elitist", but whatever. My position is the logical one, emotional wailing notwithstanding.
The "A" in AP means "advanced". Why put non-advanced students in such a class? To "expose" them to material? We in education aren't supposed to be in the business of "exposing" students to material, we're in the business of teaching students the material. Putting unprepared students into any class will create the following issues to varying degrees: the student will struggle unnecessarily and not learn as much as they could in a course more suited to their level, and/or the course content will be watered down (for the student's GPA benefit as well as the teacher's sanity).
This isn't to say that no unprepared student can never succeed in an AP class, let's not make up silly arguments here. It shouldn't be difficult to understand, though, that a student that is "unprepared" will not, in general, do as well as a student who is "prepared". That's kind of built into the definitions of the two words.
Yet, the "AP for all" push continues unabated, with expected results:
High school students are flocking to Advanced Placement classes in an attempt to earn credits for college, boost their grade-point average and look good on university applications.The high school I attended is on that list of 8 schools. When I went there, there were no AP classes. We had three levels of English for each grade (the top was called "college prep"), and math classes up to trigonometry. My senior year, six of us were ready to take Calculus. We had to go to the local community college to take it.
But are all students ready for the college-level coursework?
Students at the eight schools in the Sacramento region that fared worst on AP tests failed to score high enough to earn college credit on at least 75 percent of exams in 2015-16. That includes 3,375 tests taken at Florin, Valley, Highlands, Foothill, Natomas, Rosemont, Inderkum and Grant high schools.
Almost half of the scores at those schools were 1s – the lowest score possible.
Officials speaking for the lowest-performing schools said test results shouldn’t be the only measure of AP success. They said the classes expose students to college-level material and show them what is expected after they graduate.
“You want kids taking advanced classes,” said Jim Sanders, spokesman for Natomas Unified School District, which includes Natomas and Inderkum high schools. “It helps better prepare them for college and career.”
Even if passage rates are low at some campuses, AP courses still allow a handful of high-achievers to obtain college credit, said Lori Grace, an assistant superintendent at Twin Rivers Unified, where three of its four high schools – Highlands, Foothill and Grant – had passage rates of 25 percent or lower. Grace said that schools are enrolling more students in AP courses each year.
Too many students take AP classes just for the GPA bump. I don't understand the reasoning, though, as many colleges ask for "unweighted" GPA's. In fact, our district's transcripts list more than a couple different GPA's, so what's the point? Colleges and universities aren't fooled by your 4.3 weighted GPA. They know exactly how many A's and B's you received, and in what courses.
I've kind of rambled away from my thesis, which is this: the students at the schools listed above weren't done any favors by taking AP courses. The schools could have used those AP class periods to shore up obvious student math weaknesses instead of offering AP courses for which students clearly weren't prepared.
And we all know why the schools offer such courses, and why there's a push to allow anyone to take AP classes even in schools with a viable AP-capable population--because AP enrollment is seen as a feather in a school or district's cap. Much like a diploma, though, the value of that feather is degraded by low standards and poor performance.