Those of you who know me or who have been reading my blog will know I am an ardent and public enemy of Advanced Placement and so I was delighted to see the article “AP Classes Are A Scam” on The Atlantic website. The article’s author, John Tierney, claims AP classes are “one of the great frauds currently perpetrated on American high-school students.” I would only add that for minority students in under-served schools or areas of high poverty, AP classes become inadvertent tools used to perpetuate underachievement in the communities who need to succeed the most. Students with the highest academic performance are tracked out of mainstream classes and promised a college preparatory curriculum but instead receive a frustrating and ultimately ineffective education in random minutia. Add to this the additional problems brought on by a teacher who teaches her AP class by assigning lengthly readings from a college-level text and lecturing for 40 minutes or more every day and our struggling students are completely left behind and even less ready for the potential rigors of college. I know because this is how I rolled for 5 years – long enough for my students to graduate, spend a year or more in college, drop out and return to campus to ask me why I didn’t prepare them to be successful. Ummm . . . I was too busy teaching you to pass the AP exam?
AP classes are necessarily aligned to AP assessments which do not mirror college-level rigor, require broad and trivial fact memorization (a skill Wikipedia has made obsolete everywhere but on Jeopardy and 3G-less West Texas), and fail to build critical skills like expository writing based on research. Tierney does a nice job outlining the problems with AP courses in his article. Read the full article here and thanks to Jenny Corroy for bringing it to my attention.
What is your experience teaching or taking AP classes?