AP: A Critical Examination of the Advanced Placement Program

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9781934742556: AP: A Critical Examination of the Advanced Placement Program
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AP draws together the most recent and rigorous research on the strengths and weaknesses of the Advanced Placement program.

With an annual yearly growth rate of 9.3 percent over the last two decades, Advanced Placement courses have become a juggernaut in American high school education. AP courses are routinely perceived as an indicator of educational rigor, and many schools push to enroll low-income or minority students in these courses in the hope of preparing them for success in college-level courses.

This rapid expansion of AP courses raises important questions. What are the advantages and disadvantages of courses geared toward the AP exams? How well do AP courses prepare students for college-level work or predict students’ success in college? Should colleges award credit for AP courses? Is the AP program a cost-effective tool for closing the gap between students in privileged and struggling communities?

This book examines closely the differences between AP and other high school courses, as well as variations among AP courses. In-depth studies gauge the impact of AP coursework on student performance in college. Finally, researchers examine the use of AP information in college admissions.

Taken together, these studies present a comprehensive picture of the history, impact, and future of the Advanced Placement program.

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Over the last two decades, Advanced Placement courses have become a juggernaut in American high school education—a trend that raises critical questions for educators. What are the advantages and disadvantages of courses geared toward the AP exams? How well do AP courses predict students’ success in college? Should colleges award credit for AP courses? Is the AP program a cost-effective tool for closing achievement gaps? This volume draws together the most recent and rigorous research to present a detailed portrait of the history, impact, and future of the Advanced Placement program.

“Comprehensive research and analysis that will frame the conversation about Advanced Placement and other rigorous college preparatory curricula for years to come; critically important for students, teachers, and public policy makers alike.” — William Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid, Harvard College

“American science and mathematics students continue to be outperformed by their international counterparts. The typical suggested remedy: to increase enrollment in AP courses. Policy makers and practitioners need to consider the findings of this book and reevaluate the purpose of the AP program.” — Dennis M. Robbins, associate professor of science education, Hunter College (CUNY)

“Advanced coursework, standardized testing, college readiness, time to degree, and related cost-benefit considerations are timely issues for academic and legislative decision makers. The editors offer a rich collection written in an accessible style that will be an essential resource for school administrators, admission and guidance personnel, and policy analysts.” — Louise Lonabocker, editor-in-chief, College and University, and executive director of student services, Boston College

“As a parent, college advisor, AP Biology teacher, and AP [exam] reader, I gained many insights—some affirming and others disconcerting. Sadler’s eloquent summary recommendations should be read in every school that offers or is considering offering AP courses. I will be recommending AP to many colleagues.” — Paula Petterson, science teacher and head of college advising, Ridgeview Classical Schools, Fort Collins, Colorado

“With education becoming more competitive, schools are encouraging more students to take AP classes as to improve their ranking on national surveys. This book provides research and advice to guide schools on what is best for their students.” — John Morrison, AP physics teacher, Troy High School, Troy, Michigan

Philip M. Sadler is the F. W. Wright Senior Lecturer in Astronomy at Harvard University and head of the Science Education Department at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Gerhard Sonnert is a research associate at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and an associate of the Harvard University Physics Department. Robert H. Tai is an associate professor of education at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. Kristin Klopfenstein is a senior researcher at the University of Texas at Dallas Texas Schools Project, on leave from a faculty position at Texas Christian University.

About the Author:

Philip M. Sadler is the F. W. Wright Senior Lecturer in Astronomy at Harvard University and head of the Science Education Department at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Gerhard Sonnert is a research associate at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and an associate of the Harvard University Physics Department. Robert H. Tai is an associate professor of education at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. Kristin Klopfenstein is a senior researcher at the University of Texas at Dallas Texas Schools Project, on leave from a faculty position at Texas Christian University.

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