AP tests are latest victim of diversity

Once considered the pride of schools in this country, Advanced Placement courses have fallen out of favor (“AP Tests Are Still a Great American Equalizer,” The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 23).  Many elite private and public schools have eliminated them out of concern that they place unnecessary stress on students and fail to produce the ideal racial outcome patterns.

Our competitors abroad have no such compunctions.  For example, France continues to administer the bac, which is a national standardized exam consisting of a series of 10 to 12 tests over the course of a week.  It is the sole requirement to move on to university.

Advanced Placement courses have never been designed for all students.  They exist as evidence that students are capable of handling rigorous work in college.  But because they fail to deliver the desired racial quota outcomes, they are said to be guilty of elitism.  It’s why efforts are underway in New York City to eliminate the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test, which has long been used as a screening device.

Standards will continue to fall across the country as long as differentiation in education in any form is considered anathema to democratization.  That’s a pity because a college degree used to mean something.

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2 Replies to “AP tests are latest victim of diversity”

  1. Completely agree that it’s counterproductive for school systems to eliminate AP courses in order to avoid the appearance of AP courses favoring white/Asian students.

    But, the too-much-stress argument is a much closer issue. Speaking anecdotally, it seems that there is ever-increasing pressure on students in higher-SES high schools to take more and more AP courses in order to improve their chances of getting into the more selective colleges. This leads to the absurd result — to me, at least — of high school students carrying an academic load that is largely equivalent to that of a college student while they are still in high school and while they still have the customary competing demands on their time that college students do not have. So, these students either abandon all customary high school activities (including athletics, extracurriculars, partying, after-school jobs, helping out at home) or they sleep only a few hours per night. All this so that they have might have a better shot at getting into a competitive college.

    There is no way for an individual student to solve this dilemma. If he/she stops taking the AP courses while the school continues to offer the AP courses, the student will be at a disadvantage — particularly vis-à-vis other students at that school — in applying for college. So, on balance, I’m sympathetic to the idea of schools eliminating AP.

    A more reasonable approach, perhaps, would be for schools to continue offering AP but to allow students to take no more than one AP course per semester and perhaps prohibit AP courses in 9th and 10th grade. But, then perhaps there would not be sufficient AP enrollment to support offering AP courses.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: As long as colleges are impressed by AP courses taken, students will subject themselves to enormous stress to excel. Other countries have their version of AP courses and students handle the burden. Why are we any different?

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