ATLANTIC: "AP Classes Are a Scam"
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From The Atlantic:
AP Classes Are a Scam

The College Board earns over half of all its revenues from the courses—and, in an uncertain environment, students keep being suckered.

by JOHN TIERNEY OCT 13, 2012 U.S.

By the way, I think this John Tierney of The Atlantic is a different person than the John Tierney of the New York Times, and that both are different from former Congressman John F. Tierney. (In short, there are a lot of Irishmen in American public life.)
Fraudulent schemes come in all shapes and sizes. To work, they typically wear a patina of respectability. That’s the case with Advanced Placement courses, one of the great frauds currently perpetrated on American high-school students.

That’s a pretty strong claim, right? You bet. But why not be straightforward when discussing a scam the scale and audacity of which would raise Bernie Madoff’s eyebrows?

The miscellany of AP courses offered in U.S. high schools under the imprimatur of the College Board probably started with good intentions.

This Tierney goes on to make a number of arguments against Advanced Placement courses and tests, some plausible, some less so. He doesn’t have a lot of data one way or another, unfortunately.

I looked into the statistics on AP testing results back in 2009 for a VDARE article and concluded that diminishing marginal returns due to expansion of the number of students taking the tests hadn’t yet become a severe problem. At that point, Blue State students were getting more benefit from AP, but not enough Red State students appeared to have discovered this way to earn expensive college credits as a high school student.

I think somebody might want to reproduce my 2009 methodology with 2017 statistics to see if AP has gotten too big since I last checked.

On the other hand, I’m more of a fan of AP tests than AP courses. For example, one of my sons took a US history course that followed the AP curriculum and the class was just a forced march through memorizing a lot of facts with no time for class discussions. After the test had been taken in early May, the class experience got a lot better.

My other son went to a very good high school that doesn’t offer AP-branded courses — on the grounds that their talented teachers are better at making up their own curriculums — while encouraging students to take the AP tests. This seems to have been the best of both worlds, although it was dependent on hiring very good teachers, having very good students, and having small class sizes with lots of discussion.

As Kingsley Amis said, there’s no end to the way nice things are nicer than nasty ones.

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