What’s wrong with Advanced Placement tests?

Three cheers for the College Board! Right?

Everyone loves AP tests. Well, maybe you do, maybe you don’t, but read on. You might be surprised.

Although Jonathan Halabi, a New York City math teacher, occasionally gets too much into the weeds of New York union politics, his fascinating blog is otherwise well worth reading for us non-New Yorkers. Halabi has recently published three posts about the College Board and its Advanced Placement program, which has been severely affected by the current pandemic, as you can well imagine.

The first post, from four days ago, “AP Snafus,” focuses on what the College Board normally gets for free, as revealed when school buildings are closed. He asks:

  • What does the College Board pay school systems to use their space?
  • Oh, and what does it pay school systems for cancelling classes?
  • And I guess, what does it pay to families for having their children’s classes cancelled?

Read the post, though you can probably guess the answers. The AP tests necessitate a huge set of hidden and not-so-hidden costs. And remember that the College Board is a private, supposedly non-profit organization.

The second post, from three days ago,  “The College Board: Incompetent, Cruel, and Greedy,” is even less subtle. I don’t even want to quote from it, other than the title. Go read it yourself!

Finally, the third post, from yesterday, “Retiring Advanced Placement,” summarizes the previous two and recommends solutions. He proposes — no surprise, given the spoiler in the title — getting the College Board out of the public schools and replacing the AP with genuine learning and projects. Maybe that will fly in New York City, but certainly not in towns like Weston, where every student is expected to take at least one AP, many take four or five, and I’ve even had one student who took 13! And even in New York it wouldn’t fly at Stuyvesant and Bronx Science. Not to mention all those studies that rank high schools in part by the number of students who take AP tests (not who pass them, mind you, just who take them).

Categories: Teaching & Learning, Weston