AP Audits

Today’s Detroit Free Press: “Come February, the college prep classes at high schools across the nation will be audited amid concerns that some schools may be offering watered-down versions of AP courses. Full descriptions of every AP course, syllabus, sample assignment and sample exam for the 2007-08 year will be reviewed.”

This is great news. For a long time, College Board has looked away while up to 60% of students who took AP Courses (to look good on their college applications) never took the actual AP Exams. Almost all of these kids attended either suburban high schools or elite, exam-admission-only public schools like Stuyvesant and Boston Latin.

In the last two years, however, there’s been a move of AP expansion to include more black, Hispanic, and low-income kids. This has freaked out some of the veteran AP teachers (who didn’t seem to mind the old problem), a debate well chronicled by the Washington Post’s Jay Mathews (GGW has weighed in, too, on Eduwonk).

GGW’s only question: instead of “auditing” the syllabi et al, why not simply require that all kids taking AP classes actually take the test? Shouldn’t that be an expectation – if you want to claim you took an AP course, you need to take the test? It’s no shame to fail: for kids, they learn what college rigor is really like; for schools, teachers work together using the AP data to make adjustments on how to improve their classes.

And then schools with repeatedly low test-taking rates and low scores could be audited by College Board. Who knows: if they found a well-intentioned team of teachers who simply weren’t succeeding, maybe they could provide the sort of training that would help the kids learn the tough stuff.

– Guest Blogger GGW

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