Do​ Advanced Placement Classes Help Students?

Photo Credit: J. Sanna (CC-By-2.0)

More students are taking Advanced Placement (AP), and more students are failing as a result as well, but some question whether taking AP helps students when they get to college. Are there better alternatives? 

The collective research on the subject is non-conclusive.

Amanda Zhou at Chalkbeat reports:

A new review of research provides a stark reminder that we simply don’t know the answer to that or a number of other important questions about AP courses, even as the program has become a more common part of the American high school experience.

Suneal Kolluri of the University of Southern California looked at over 50 studies of AP tests and classes that examine how they have expanded and whether they’ve equipped students with “college-level knowledge and skills.”

“AP is such an important element of high school for kids and teachers, and we don’t really understand how it’s impacting student experiences,” said Kolluri.

Unsurprisingly, students who score a 3 or higher on an AP exam do better in college. But, remarkably, there is virtually no research pinning down cause and effect — that is, whether taking AP courses actually helps students succeed. The association could be due to factors like a student’s high school quality or their own motivation.

Read the rest.

Since the research is inconclusive, one has to ask why schools are pushing AP over dual-enrolling in community college classes or taking a career tech class? 

My wife and I homeschooled all three of our children. All three of our kids, when they were juniors and seniors in high school, took classes at Des Moines Area Community College for high school AND college credit. My son went on to receive his EMT training, my oldest daughter finished an Associates Degree and graduated with honors from Hannibal LaGrange University in May.

My youngest daughter, and our last child at home, just graduated from high school with a CNA certification (taking that class from Central Campus with Des Moines Public Schools). She is well on her way to completing the general ed college credit she needs to enroll in a respected nursing program in our state (students have to earn general education credit elsewhere before transferring to the program).

There are other ways to get a leg up on college credit and college preparedness. College Board should not have a monopoly. 

One thought on “Do​ Advanced Placement Classes Help Students?

  1. Many kids that I know who have used the AP score to skip the intro class have had to drop and try to get back into the intro class. Most of these students are on scholarship and need to keep a minimum GPA in order to keep this money…..failure or C’s/D’s are not an option. It’s the dirty little secret in a school district that pushes AP for all in high school. My nephew needed to have an AP physics score to get into an engineering program and he had never taken physics (he went to a swanky private school that incorporated a “how to take SAT/ACT” into the school day)……his advisor gave him a small physics workbook to look over and the next weekend he took the test. Scored 5, but doesn’t know a thing about physics? He used test taking techniques to pass the test….he also scored perfect in Math SAT and very high on ELA/SAT….ALL because he knew how to take the test. AP is BULLS__T!

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