Admissions 101: Why Aren't More Students Taking AP Classes?
In Admissions 101, Jay Mathews is pondering an interesting question about Advanced Placement tests -- why high schools aren't pushing more students to take them. As Jay writes:
"The annual Newsweek Challenge Index is the largest existing data base of AP test participation rates. It shows that only six percent of public high schools make the list, which means they gave at least as many AP, IB or Cambridge tests as they had graduating seniors. It does not take much, at least from my point of view, to qualify for the list...Since two thirds of high schoolers go on to college, and would presumably benefit from taking an AP course and test, why are so few doing so?"
Boosterprez has a possible answer:
I can think of two reasons at our school why AP courses aren't taken as much....first, parents and students don't realize that, if they do well on the tests, college credit is possibly earned, allowing students to start their college life with many credits under their belts. In fact, many former students have reported on school surveys that they WISH they'd taken more AP classes in high school.
Secondly, students are more concerned about their grade point averages and think that taking a tougher class might damage them. In our district, unfairly or not, AP courses are still graded on a 4.0 scale; in many schools they are graded on a 5. scale. Students (and parents) don't recognize that rigor in a schedule is at least as important as grade point, and colleges DO look at how well students challenged themselves academically.
My son takes his AP Stats exam today! He's gotten 5's on his practice tests, so we're hopeful!
Oh, let me also say this: Obviously, success depends a great deal on the teacher. My son is also taking AP World HIstory. His teacher is an AP exam grader. He focused almost solely on HOW TO WRITE the various types of papers tested in the exam (for example, DBQ and CC), and forced the students to do the studying of the material on their own. We'll see next Thursday how that strategy works out.
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Washington Post Editors
| May 5, 2009; 11:18 AM ET
Categories: Admissions 101
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