Elimination of AP classes?

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Elimination of AP classes?
By Txtaximom (Txtaximom) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 10:58 am: Edit

Sorry if this shows up twice, but the first post seems to have vanished into thin air. I was looking for feedback on this topic.

From this morning's local paper:
"Isaac said the counselors and associate principal she spoke at with at MHS said they would like dual credit to replace advanced placement because so few students are taking the AP test now that they aren't getting college credit for their work."

Full link:

How do you think this will affect students seeking admission to out of state and competitive schools?

By Marite (Marite) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 11:13 am: Edit

There is an article in the NYT today about the elimination of some AP classes and allowing students to take only 4 classes as a result of a budget crunch in one of the best schools in NYC.

I think one can only hope that the GCs will write that applicants have taken the most rigorous classes available to them. But it's a real shame.

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 11:23 am: Edit

I don't know anything about this particular school, but I do want to say that there are several misconceptions about AP courses.

The first is that they are ALWAYS superior to Honors level courses. In many schools, AP courses teach to the test, while so-called "regular" courses are far more in depth. In fact, as I have posted before, a top private school in NY wanted to eliminate their APs and wrote and asked Harvard their opinion. Harvard's answer was "Great!" This is because the school wanted to teach higher quality courses than the "If-it's-Tuesday-it-must-be-the-Civil-War" kind of thing.

This means that when kids boast about having taken a dozen APs, it may be that they go to a school that (for example), calls their 9th and 10th grade courses in history AP European or AP World, while another school may have as difficult - or more difficult, more critical-thinking - Honors courses. IMHO, from personal experience, I highly doubt that many 9th graders are really doing college-level work.

This brings me to the second point. My first two kids got accepted by a Top Ten University and a Top Ten LAC (according to USNWR, if you care about such things) and the first took ONE AP and the second took four. In each case, it was a reasonable amount for their schools (they went to different schools) and in each case the colleges knew that the Honors courses were more rigorous than what passes for AP courses for 9th and 10th graders. In fact, neither school ALLOWED 9th or 10th graders to take AP courses.

So the answer to your question is: the schools look at how many courses YOUR school gives and how rigorous they know the program to be. I repeat: My kids were not the only ones to get into top schoools with a number of APs that looks paltry compared to people on this board. Last year we had kids get into Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, Stanford and MIT with 4 or FEWER APS.

I think the AP hysteria should be toned down a bit. As the courses proliferate around the country, they count for less if they are from weak schools. I recently read an article which adcoms expressed - well, if not contempt, than a bit of disgust - for the apps they get from people claiming to have taken all the "soft" APs
(anything NOT English, math, bio-chem-physics, US History and language) but who can't write, have so-so board scores, who come from weak schools, etc.

Sorry to rant. Chalk it up to too much coffee! But I do confess that this pushes a button with me!


By Txtaximom (Txtaximom) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 11:26 am: Edit

The reason why fewer get AP credit in our district is manyfold. The classes are taken on the accelerated block; the teachers do not always have the materials (ex Human Geography teacher does not have the program to generate the practice tests, and did not have textbooks last year); open enrollment has pressured teachers to drop standards in order to have a higher percent pass the class--just to name a few.

However our community college classes cost a pretty penny and are not subsidized in any way for dual enrolled students. They still have to pay the activity fee, the tech fee, library usage fee, enrollment fees, parking sticker, etc...vs $45 for the AP test. (Our school covers half, and there is also the fee waiver)

Furthermore, the credits from the community college do not always transfer.

I don't think it will make a school district that is already circling the drain any more attractive. They lost so many students to transfers this year that TEA stepped in and declined some of them.

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 11:27 am: Edit

PS - there are many top colleges that will only take AP credits if you get a 5 on the test, and in my children's cases, only AFTER taking other courses at the university in that department. The schools are getting very wary about APs as the quality of the courses - at least at some high schools - goes down. Another school in my area - a regional, very-low-ranked university, will take just about anything that is a 3 or above, but then their OWN courses are far, far easier than ANYTHING my kids every had in high school.

So much depends on your school; the school you are applying to; etc. etc. etc. Oh - BTW - the kids (mine included) who got into the top schools I listed did not even SUBMIT their AP test scores til AFTER acceptance, and then only for placement purposes!

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 11:32 am: Edit

Voronwe -- I agree about the AP emphasis being overblown. And you're right about more limited acceptance of AP credits at top colleges -- at Brown it's very limited, and I believe you pretty much always have to take a class in the dept to get credit at all.

Also, I remember looking at the Yale course catalog on AP credits about two years ago, and acceptance of AP credits seemed MUCH more limited than what I remember when my sister was there about 15 years ago.

By Txtaximom (Txtaximom) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 11:34 am: Edit

Voronwe...our school doesn't have any honors level classes. They decided a few years ago you would take AP, or "academic"--which is to say "regular." Also, AP classes are not offered to 9th and 10th graders at our school.

The removal of the AP classes would eliminate the second year lab sciences, the fourth year languages, and yes, quite a few AP Lite. It would also eliminate the Calculus AB/BC. Many of these classes help our kids keep their heads above water their freshmen year of college.

They say the kids aren't ready for the rigors of the community college coursework in this article, thus the decline in those classes. So why would eliminating AP classes and replacing them with dual enrollment help?

Our community, BTW, does not have a highly educated population. The "rigor" of the community college classes is not an issue for advanced students. Maturity level is more like it....going back and forth to campus etc....

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 11:37 am: Edit

Marite, that school, Midwood HS, was also the subject a few years ago of a NYT Magazine article on unlikely students dedicating themselves intensely to preparing for the Intel STS. http://midwoodscience.org/department/smartset/
Unlike Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, etc., which are the known elites, Midwood has been the Little Engine that Could. That's why today's article about the elimination of so many APs is truly sad.

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 11:38 am: Edit

Txtaximom - I see your point! As I said, I wasn't realy addressing your issue, just ranting on APs nationwide in general. Our school has remedial, basic, general college prep, Honors, and AP. If you don't have Honors, then it's a bad thing to eliminate APs. I would think you would lose a lot of students to private schools this way.....

By Achat (Achat) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 11:40 am: Edit

But the NYT article is indeed alarming. The girl mentioned there could take only 4 courses and one of them is gym! I can imagine an outcry over that in our district.

By Txtaximom (Txtaximom) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 11:46 am: Edit

I'm asking this to gain understanding, not to flame....I can see where AP is not always the best case scenario. So....

Would you be attracted to a high school that did not offer any AP classes? Would you place your student there, when adjacent districts offered AP classes? The number of students leaving the district has impacted the budget already, a big issue here.

For our students, a 4 or 5 on the AP exam helps support grades (often suspected of inflation) and lower SAT scores than more suburban areas. Our high school rarely sees a merit finalist for example, and the average SAT is about 946. Many of our students do list the AP tests on the transcript even though they do not send the permanent copy until they enroll.

And what about the colleges that do still accept the scores? Most of our students are not viable applicants for elite schools, but they are readily accepted to second tier/25-50..whatever you want to call those.

Again, I'm seeking all input. *dons flame retardant suit*

By Katwkittens (Katwkittens) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 11:52 am: Edit

At our local high school, my 3 kiddos attend and one graduated last year, the misinformation given to parents is absurd. Just the start of this new school year, son's AP English teacher was under the impresson that credit is awarded by the testing organization NOT the students' matriculating school! And she told parents this and their respective students. And she wasn't the only one. They also told students and included in handouts and newsletters home and e-mails that ALL schools accept AP credit with a 3 or better. (And I KNOW this isn't true.)

So far, I have enlightened them to the best of my ability about various errors. They did not know that there are fee waivers for the AP exams, I was told that by the great parents here on CC. My son was eligible last year and I had the state board of education contact the school to verify and let them know how to process the appropriate paperwork. As far as quality........I only know that out of the all the AP 12th grade English last year (125+) only SEVEN sat for the exam and maybe 2 passed. My son (10th grader last year) and another fellow student were the only ones to pass the APUS test. He had the highest score with a 4. Kids previous high school had a very high pass rate but classes and teacher's were much more thorough there.

My oldest DS, a freshman in college, had 7 APs when he graduated. He took them only for curriculm purposes, so brought none of those credits with him. he felt his AP Physics, Chem, Bio, Engl, Hist were no comparison to what he would receive at a better college/university. The units he did take with him were earned during the summers he attended a 4 year university, now that garnered 27 units and a nice GPA. Every little bit helps.

But as far as his APs, he is just taking them again in college. DD and DS#2 are doing the same. At their high school, also with an accelerated block 4x4, the honors teacher is the AP teacher. Block schedule and AP are just at cross purposes. Makes testing and review awful, and lessens the amount of actual class time. UGH!

This is one of my least favorite things about the kids' school, can't you tell???


By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 12:17 pm: Edit

My daughter's school wishes they could eliminate AP classes. The principal has admitted several times that they only offer them because of parental demand, not because they feel they add anything important to the curriculum. The teachers all feel that they end up teaching for the test.

As it is, they discourage kids from taking more than 2 AP's a year. Only the really stellar kids end up with 4 or 5, most of the kids in the top 10% or so take 2 or 3. The school offers 13 AP classes total. Doesn't seem to be a problem in college admissions as they regularly send many kids to top tier schools and 98% of students go on to 4 year schools. Last year alone, kids went off to Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD, and Dartmouth.

The school does offer a full slate of excellent honors classes (many in the same subjects as the AP classes) and encourages kids to take those. At her guidance counselor's urging, my daughter elected to take Honors US History this year instead of AP US History. It's taught by the same teacher, uses the same textbook, but the class is structured more around classroom discussion, research and writing than preparing for the AP test in May. She's loving the class and feels just as challenged as she was in her AP Euro class last year.

Now, at our local public high school the situation is a bit different. Kids get "honors" credit simply by taking the regular class and doing a few extra assignments. There's no separate class, not even a separate discussion group. The few AP classes they offer really are taught at a higher level and in a different setting. There, I think I would push for whatever AP classes I could.

By Sybbie719 (Sybbie719) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 12:18 pm: Edit

In the NY Times article, the courses that are mentioned in the article are not necessary for this student to graduate from high school. However, NYC you must have 8 semesters of gym in order to graduate. Believe it or not this person could take an AP course, fail it and probably still graduate if they have met the requirements for a NYS high school diploma. Hoever if she fails gym, she will not graduate. You would be suprised at the number of people who have ot do 6 months for gym!

I remember when Fieldston said that they were opting out of AP courses in favor of honors courses, when my D's former H.S. said that they were going to take a page out of Fieldston's book and do the same thing,there was outrage and some of the same concerns that kids would not get in to good schools. This is a H.S. that never offered a lot of AP courses to begin with but did however offer college courses at Parsons, BMCC, NYU & the New School (which would still remain even if AP was eliminated).

I know that we have discussed this before and some of the points that Voronwe raised are still valid that most schools teach AP to the test. I remember when we visited Williams last spring, that they were looking into not taking AP credits because they found that the kids did not learn the course to the depth and breath of an equivalent college course.

My Daughter has a friend who has gotten 5's on both AP english exams but does not know how to write a term paper in APA or MLA format because she said it was not needed on the AP exam but she can write a mean 5 paragrah paper. So while she has been exempt from freshman writing, there is also an expectation that she would know how to write a term paper. Wouldn't she have been better served learning how to write a term paper?

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 12:18 pm: Edit

In an imperfect world, the very imperfect APs are the only "brand name" that helps students from unknown schools have something on their transcripts that college adcoms can recognize. Also, given the current disapproval of tracking that seems to have gripped many high schools, AP is a bright student's only chance to be in class with intellectual peers. So until we come up with something better, AP might be as good as it gets. That said, neither of my kids will use the credits in college. And way back when, I used them to get an M.A. as an undergrad, and would not recommend this course of action to anybody.

By Txtaximom (Txtaximom) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 12:38 pm: Edit

My son was offered placement, and generic non-major credits, but I think what he gained most is what aparent pointed out...something that adcoms recognize. He was the first to apply to most of his schools from our neck of the woods, no track record of our school. (maybe a good thing!)

Another issue here that worries me...the cost of the community college classes are out of reach for over half our students. We have 52% low income/free and reduced lunch. The ability to pay for all the books and fees isn't across the board. So not all the students could replace the upper level classes. (remember, honors was eliminated)

Rural south Texas is much different than Dallas, Houston, or Austin. AP is one of the only recognizable ways to compete with candidate from those cities. I'm seeing that people in more metropolitan areas, or from more rigorous private/parochial/charter/magnets see less need for the AP--perhaps because your base curriculum is already rigorous?

Many of our graduates must be remediated before they can attend the state universities. They tend to be at the bottom of the top 10% with no AP classes. The removal of AP would just mean that none of the students would have the opportunity to be taught at advanced level--which I understand "advanced" varies in each situation. Our regular classes do not even come close to approximating skills you would need for college.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 12:48 pm: Edit

Carolyn -- it sounds like your school may be a private school that is well-known by the top schools, which puts the kids there in a different situation than at lesser-known schools. If my kid was at Andover, for example, I probably wouldn't care about having APs on the record.

While I think the AP emphasis is misplaced, assuming a decent public HS, I would prefer one with at least the "academic core" AP classes. It's the fluff APs that I have a bigger problem with, which kids seem to use to rack up numbers of AP classes.

By Bigdaddy (Bigdaddy) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 12:52 pm: Edit

I'm on the side of de-emphasing AP courses. I think they risk dumbing down a high school's curriculum by limiting instruction to a national one-size-fits-all test.

At my daughter's high school, the faculty wanted to spend its resources developing rigorous honors classes, but that was scrapped because parents demanded the brandname AP fare.

I would like to see a system where professional educators develop the approriate curriculum for their schools and parents (it should be students, but parents really make the decisions) who want something else can enroll their students in community college classes or take AP courses online.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 12:56 pm: Edit

Rhonda, Yes, it's a Catholic high school with a good reputation. Not an elite "prep school" though. Just a good, college-oriented school that stresses a very traditional education. It has about 1300 students from all economic and racial/ethnic categories. And, oh yes, the per student budget is less than what California public high schools spend.

I agree with you about the need for AP's at most public high schools. One of the reasons we opted not to send our daughter to our local public is because at that time they didn't offer AP's and, as I said, their "honors" program was/is a joke.

What I think is sad is that the original mission of Advanced Placement courses is getting so lost these days. They were never intended as a college admissions edge; instead, they were originally meant to provide extra challenge to students who had moved beyond the typical high school curriculum. In my opinion, now that they are viewed merely as "gotta haves" for college admissions, they have lost some of their original educational value.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 12:59 pm: Edit

But isn't being willing and able to take on that "extra challenge" exactly what admcoms are looking for? So while the purpose may not have been to provide an admissions edge (not sure the purpose of HS originally was such anyway!), the APs are generally considered indicative of a desire and ability to do more difficult academic work. Whether they should be is an open question, IMO.

By Cangel (Cangel) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 01:07 pm: Edit

My daughter's school offers a mix of things, she has to take all available APs in order to check that box "most difficult curriculum". Her school requires everyone taking the class to take the AP test, as well as taking the corresponding AP test after certain honors classes (ie AP Chem after Honors Chem II, and the AP Comp after Honors Eng 11). Our school is not well enough known outside the South to just substitute honors classes. Although, some of her honors classes have been rigorous (she has her own copy of the MLA Handbook so I'm not worried about that).
I felt like we needed to unofficially report the AP scores, just to give legitimacy to the classes - I also think her scores well reflect the test "relevancy" of the material covered in class - a 4 in 10th grade, first time teacher had taught the course, lots of time spent teaching 10th graders how to answer the essay questions; last year a 3 in chemistry (taught as honors chem II, not AP, did not cover all the topics on the test, and daughter could not manage to cram in one more outside test prep) and all 5s in Bio, Comp, and APUSH.

After "meeting" all your kids, the biggest deficiency her school has is in math - it's amazing what your kids cover before graduation, I bet there are only 2 schools in our county that offer Cal BC (if that many), and one is the state's residential school for Math and Science which is not really a local school.

Another observation about APs and rigor, at our school, which is small (150 graduating seniors), rigor varies from class to class - her class is a "smart" class. There is a core group that really push each other - they kept the same teachers and basically the same group for both honors math and history in 10th and 11th grades (Honors AlgII/Trig and Honors Pre-cal, AP Euro and APUSH), this has made them close-knit and competitive in a positive way that benefits everybody. The class of 04 did not have this energy.

By Sybbie719 (Sybbie719) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 01:15 pm: Edit

In theory AP probably was originally designed to provide extra challenge to bright and gifted students whose skills and abilities far exceed the standard curriculum. Now it seems that AP is becoming the standard curriculum

By Marite (Marite) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 04:11 pm: Edit

>>I'm on the side of de-emphasing AP courses. I think they risk dumbing down a high school's curriculum by limiting instruction to a national one-size-fits-all test. >>

I disagree with this diagnosis. What we have seen in several districts is the impact of NCLB on schools. They are so eager to avoid being considered underperforming that they put all their emphasis and their resources on helping the struggling students and underserving the more advanced ones. This is exactly what happened at Midwood, the school profiled in the NYT article; this has happened in many schools in my state.

The problem we have had in our school is very similar to what Txtaximom describes: for four years after a major restructuring of the curriculum, there was nothing between the regular class and the AP class. In 9th and 10th grades, advanced students took the same classes as students who could read only at a 6th grade level, and could do math only at a 4th or 5th grade level. In 11th and 12th grades, bright students who were not interested in going into certain fields (especially in the sciences) but wanted more challenging courses than the regular ones had no alternatives to the AP classes; so they struggled in those classes whereas they could have done well in Honors classes.

For all my reservations about the AP curricula, dumbing down curriculum is not a concern except at the most rigorous schools.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 07:02 pm: Edit

Txtaximom, you know that I see your point well. Even those of us in suburban Texas fight some of the same battles. Maybe to a lesser degree, but they are still present. And we won't even get started on TAKS and the other educational ills that have fallen upon us. Some of the private schools in our area are nationally known (such as Xiggi's alma mater), and there are solid parochial schools. But many in our area don't offer what my kids can get in the public school. I always believed in public education, but these days, I often find myself envying those of you that were able to make a choice.

That said, my daughter is a freshman in the HS my son just graduated from. I can't agree more with Aparent and Txtaximom on adcom recognition. My son's school is the quintessential funnel to the state schools. Nothing wrong with a state school. It's just that kids who want something different are left to research for themselves and distinguish themselves academically the best way they can. Good SAT's are great, but we hear so much about the high school record that I doubt good SAT's alone could save you with the "regulars" courses in our district if you are shooting for something in the top 50 on anyone's list. I honestly don't think that a stellar score would be possible after all regulars at our school. Too much time is wasted with non-serious students during the course of a class period.

I would love honors to come back to our district. Used to have it, but budget cutbacks caused its demise. Until then, AP seems to be our ticket. Son's AP credits will allow him to get a dual degree in four years if he desires and take a colloquiem or two. Mostly it was for - advanced placement.

By Shennie (Shennie) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 09:01 pm: Edit

Our school has some AP classes, but none in English, science or history. We also don't have Honors classes. But there are still plenty of challenging classes that college bound students can take. And often students take, and do well, on the AP tests even though the school doesn't offer the class. The reason that the school doesn't offer more APs is because they don't want to be tied to the AP curriculum. The teachers want to be able to teach things that aren't covered. As a midwestern district, many of kids choose to go to school in state but we have a number of students who get in to the elite schools every year.

Overall, it is not about AP or Honors, but about having a quality curriculum that is able to meet the different needs of students in the school. However, I think it is difficult for smaller schools who don't have kids applying to elite schools on a regular basis to get the adcoms to become familiar with the curriculum if they don't have the AP label. Fortunately, I think that colleges sound like they are starting to look beyond that label to wee what is really there.

By Marite (Marite) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 09:25 pm: Edit

As long as the course is at least as rigorous as the AP class, it's fine, and it is actually what some top schools, both private and public are doing. No college is going to turn down graduates of Scarsdale High or BU Academy (average SAT score 725/700) because they do not offer APs. But in many districts, the choice is between courses aimed at unmotivated students with 6th grade reading levels and AP courses. If the latter get eliminated, all that is left is the low level courses. Another problem, that our high school, having eliminated Honors classes, eventually realized, was that the heterogeneous classes did not prepare students for SAT-IIs. So now we're restoring Honors, and not a moment too soon.

By Momof2inca (Momof2inca) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 10:04 pm: Edit

Txtaximom asked: "Would you be attracted to a high school that did not offer any AP classes? Would you place your student there, when adjacent districts offered AP classes? The number of students leaving the district has impacted the budget already, a big issue here."

Four years ago when we were deciding which high school to send our son to, we faced this exact question. Should he go to the traditional high school where 90 percent of his middle school peers went, or the new magnet high school that was set up in portables across the street from where the school was under construction? We decided to send him to the magnet school that offered no APs (at that time) because it seemed like a better fit for him.

In this case, it offered proximity to a community college where he could do dual-enrollment classes, an emphasis on technology and projects, a smaller campus with no sports, younger teachers who were unafraid of new curriculum and technology, and the chance to take PE as independent study at the nearby YMCA where we were already members.

It worked out really well for our son because they eventually added APs and he will have taken 6 out of the 7 offered by the time he graduates in June. In addition, because he can walk just across the street to the college, he will have 10 college courses finished in June. He added up his credits the other day, and counting AP classes that he might get credit for (depending on the university) he will have 55 units. If he went to a UC he could start very close to junior status.

The bonus is that this year, his high school broke into the top 20 in California in terms of the state's Academic Performance Index, which measures how well the students perform on the very rigorous state standards tests. There are a lot of high schools in this state and to be in the top 20 is something we never anticipated.

Long story short, APs are one component to consider when deciding on a school. I personally place a higher value on the quality of the teaching/administration staff and size of the school (assuming, of course, that the basic college prep curriculums among the schools being considered are pretty much the same.)

By Paulhomework (Paulhomework) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 10:32 pm: Edit

An alternative to ap courses is the IB program. This is a much more in depth, balanced, and well-rounded program that not only requires academic excellence, but also research and community service.

Try it out if your school offers it.

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 05:59 am: Edit

Paulhomework, we've had many, many threads on IB versus AP. Once again, the quality depends on the school. And clearly, if her school is dropping AP, they are not going to put the entire IB program into place!

By Lefthandofdog (Lefthandofdog) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 08:09 am: Edit

I'm curious what others think about the trend of students taking more courses at a local college while they're still high school students. It's happening in our high school. There is talk of doing away with AP because students can take courses at a local c.c. or in some cases high school faculty are teaching a course in the high school (they've been given some additional training, I'm told) that is accredited through a local private college. (As in the case of AP courses, teachers are paid more to teach this kind of course.) In both cases, students are paying tuition. Until recently, our district paid the cost of AP exams. The result is you have high school students paying for c.c. courses, perhaps an on-site "satellite" course from a local college, and AP exams all while receiving a free, public education. Most successful students are having to turn to these alternatives to both get an education and to make themselves more desirable candidates for hard-to-get-into colleges. What our high school is doing with its reduced budget is trying to increase the no. of students (through extra periods of the basics) who graduate under more stringent standards. I'm all for kids being creative in the ways they meet their educational needs and doing what works for them, but something about this disturbs me. I'm disappointed to learn that the guarantee of a public education seems to mean a very basic education and that students are being asked to pay for courses when they've been accelerated through the curriculum (by the school, because it was obvious they were capable of doing the work). This may not be the case in homogeneous, relatively well off districts, but in our district (heterogeneous by just about every measure) the way we seem to be leaving no child behind is for everyone to take as many steps backward as is necessary.

In schools where students are taking c.c courses are the districts picking up the tab, or has it always been the case that students pay their own tuition? Do most districts require students to pay the cost of AP exams?

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 08:38 am: Edit

In our school, students are expected to pay for the cost of AP exams, but the school has a scholarship fund for students on F/R lunch. The Harvard Extension School, where some of our students take evening classes, has scholarships for high school students. The schools distribute these scholarships according to certain criteria; they can cover all or half of the tuition. If students take a course that is available at the high school, they have to pay the full tuition.

By Momof2inca (Momof2inca) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 04:25 pm: Edit

Lefthandofdog, you asked:
"In schools where students are taking c.c courses are the districts picking up the tab, or has it always been the case that students pay their own tuition? Do most districts require students to pay the cost of AP exams? "

In California, high school students can take CC classes at no cost, except for the health fee (about $16 per semester) and books. At our son's school, we have to pay for every AP exam and many of the books, too, especially for English, where there are sometimes 10 or more to buy. I think the quality of classes (AP and college) varies tremendously depending on the teacher.

"the way we seem to be leaving no child behind is for everyone to take as many steps backward as is necessary. " I agree with this statement when applied to gifted children. For other kids, the bar has never been higher. For teachers, the stress has never been greater.

By Sybbie719 (Sybbie719) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 05:19 pm: Edit

At my daughter's H.S. courses at BMCC, Parsons, Barnard, Queens College, New School and NYU are free but limited to Juniors and seniors. However Parents must purchase books. Students can take one class per semester at the schools.

Students must pay for AP exams(or fee waivers). Student ho are not eligible for fee waivers and cannot afford to pay for the exam, fees will paid by the PTA (which allocates this in the budget)

All students in AP must take the exam in order to get Ap credit on their transcript.

By Shennie (Shennie) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 09:29 pm: Edit

In our state, Wisconsin, this is actually addressed at the state level. Students may not take college courses for credit unless the class is not offered in their home district. The student must also be a junior or senior. If they are qualified to take a class that is not available in the district and are junior or senior, they can take the class at a state university or technical college and the tuition is paid for by the home district. The program is called Youth Options. Admission to the Youth Options program can be denied if there is no space available in the class the student wants to take at the college level, although the students I know who have done this usually get accepted. The student is responsible for transportation. Students who do participate get high school credit and college credit, both. I believe the college credits are listed on the high school transcript, but the grades don't figure into the overall GPA. Since we don't weight grades in our district, this has not been an issue.

At the university level, I think the classes most often taken are math, computer science and foreign language. At the technical school level, the classes taken vary quite a bit. I do know of one young man who spent most of his day senior year at the tech school taking auto mechanic classes. He did have to take English at the high school to graduate but everything else was taken at the tech school and paid for by the district.

The program is not without its faults. Between the transportation and scheduling issues, some students are not able to take advantage of this program. But I think it works reasonably well although the districts are not crazy about having to foot the bill.

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 09:43 pm: Edit

>>The student must also be a junior or senior.>>

Ouch. My S, who is now a junior, has already taken 6 college courses. If he had not been allowed to take college math courses, he would not have been able to fulfill the 3-year math requirement.

By Sybbie719 (Sybbie719) on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 06:25 am: Edit

Hi Marite,

The student must also be a junior or senior.

That is because everyone takes the same curriculum during first 2 years.

Junior year is when you get to choose different math classes based on placement exams. Because of NYS Regent requirements for graduation, some courses can not be circumvented with college courses no matter how proficient the student may be they still must take the Math A regents. This year studnets must take the Math A & B regents.

The courses offered at the respective colleges are determined by the college.

For example, at NYU they offer 4 classes and the student ranks their preference. Daughter ended up with History of Modern Ireland one semester. While she graned at the beginning, she ended up enjoying the course.

By Marite (Marite) on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 07:01 am: Edit


In theory, for the first two years, students are supposed to take the same curriculum here, too. But my S took Calculus BC and Physics C in 8th grade. I cannot imagine making him sit in Algebra II and Geometry (no Honors!) in 9th and 10th grades. My S had to take the MCAS (Mass Comprehensive Assessment) in 10th grade. This is the high-stakes exit test, without which a student cannot graduate. But there was no question of his studying for the exam (which were scheduled at the same time as APs--another story). He did have to take the math portion of the exam, which he polished off in 1/2 hour, and then had to sit for the next 2 1/2 hour doing nothing (students were not allowed out).
S came back raving about his Physics class at Harvard yesterday. He is auditing it for high school credit. Over 100 students in the class, but he is loving it.

By Sybbie719 (Sybbie719) on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 09:49 am: Edit

Wow that's really great that your son is really enjoying his class. Because he as taken a number of classes at Harvard's extension, has he ruled out the school because he may be looking for something new? That was the good thing about D taking classes at NYU- it took her going there to realize that NYU's enviornment was not for her and she wanted to attend a small school.

Situations like your son's show the need why AP curriculm is important because your son would have been bonkers by now with a H.S. math curriculum.

But he has even exhaused what AP has to offer, so even if he is not looking for college credit, wil the H.S. transcript include all of the courses he has taken?

By Marite (Marite) on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 10:02 am: Edit


About the transcript, my S has an appointment with his GC next week, where they will talk about how to record his Harvard classes.
On whether to attend Harvard: It's very close to home, so it may be a consideration (not yet sure whether it is a plus or a minus). He has just received emails from good friends, two at MIT and one at Harvard, and they all rave about their respective schools. In other words, he'll have to make up his own mind. He also has a good friend who is applying to Princeton, some people who attended Chicago and loved it there, some people who also love Yale, and so forth. So, wherever he ends up going, I'm sure he'll be happy. I sure wish I knew which way he is leaning, though.

By Sybbie719 (Sybbie719) on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 12:18 pm: Edit

I know the away but not otoofar away story.

Pray he is not like my child or he'll let you know on April 29

By Pappap (Pappap) on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 12:49 pm: Edit

I encouraged my daughter to take a Psychology course this summer in place of AP Psychology this junior year. The school offers the same credit for both. It was six weeks of 3 hour college classes vs a full year of high school classes, taught by an instructor with a degree in psychology vs a generic social studies high school teacher. Frankly, it was a no-brainer.

The most important part - she learned a ton. Frankly, I don't care if she receives credit for this course once she attends college. She's well grounded in a subject she enjoys, and may pursue as a major.

Cost to me, including tuition and books: $350, vs $75 for an AP test. This was money very well spent.

By Txtaximom (Txtaximom) on Sunday, September 26, 2004 - 07:37 pm: Edit

Thank you for all the responses. From the posts above, I can see that AP is less important when there are equal/better opportunities available to the student, particularly in more rigorous schools where honors classes are just as good, if not better.

I am less worried about actual credits (cc or AP) and more concerned with the best college preparation possible.

Here, the CC expenses are on the student, and there is no financial aid. Furthermore transportation can also be an issue, we have no public transport here. If they remove AP, it will impact the lower socio-economic families.

Our high school is now back-pedalling. It seems that the CC president, in trying to make up for the 200 enrollment drop from part-time high school students, has started to campaign to have that number increase next year. This despite saying in the very same article that the high school students lacked the maturity and academic skills to be successful there..ie they had been scared away by the rigor. So this is really about the loss of revenue.

I am glad that my son will finish this year, and my younger children are in a district that plans to continue with the AP program. I do worry that this high school, which is already circling the drain, will continue to repel decent students. It will be particularly hard for those students who do not have the financial resources to make up the difference. We have several hundred graduating either a year or half a year early. (block system) And several hundred either transferred or left the system this year, mostly from the top end of the classes. The loss in Average Daily Attendance (ADA) dollars from the state is in the millions each year. (They receive 4K per year from the state per student.)

As an interesting aside...the district did apply for and receive a chunk of federal magnet money to make one of the elementary schools an IBO school. Three years later and the grant money is gone, the grant cannot be renewed, and there is no IBO program. Your federal tax dollars at work. *snort*

By Originaloog (Originaloog) on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 01:07 pm: Edit

Our school district has set very high standard for its AP classes. Enrollment is limited to jrs and srs, the 25 open seats are offered to honors track students only with srs getting priority, no student may take more than 3 AP classes per year, and the district consults with a well known local LAC to develop a college level syllabus.

The workload is significantly greater than either regular or honor section classes. For instance, APUSH(one of only two AP classes with 2-25 student sections) students were assigned two primary texts, and several supplemental reading texts. They were given a reading list of about 30 books and were required to do 6 book reports, 2 in the summmer and one during each grading period. They were required to do a independent study on some local topic using original sources only(my son did his on the activities of the Presbyterian Church leading up to the Revolutionary War) and a final research paper on an approved topic. His APStats course required him to complete, as a final project, a comprehensive statistical report using real data obtained from a business, school, hospital, manufacturing plant, etc.. His final report was impressive, running over 50 pages, filled with computations, charts and graphs. For his final APCompSci project he made a two person Battleship game with player voice recognition. He is now at college and just had his first Calc 2 exam. Like every other student we know of, the college exam was much easier than the exams he took in APCalc, where few students were able to crack the 90 grade barrier(he didnt). Though this AP class was very hard here are what his studets say about him:

-Way cool teacher. I'm proud to get a C in his class! If only other teachers would push us like he does. He's inspired me to consider becoming a math teacher.

-how about 100 times, mr. xxxx was the best teacher i had in h.s., prepped me for more than just college calc

-I will probably never have a math teacher as good as Mr. xxxx. If you survive his class, you're good for life.

-it takes a little to get used to him, but i passed my calc ap exam after nearly failing the class - he went so far into the material, the ap exam was easier!

-Had him xx years ago!! great person, great teacher! Black for test day, and always had the pointer in his hand. They don't make them like him anymore.

-Everybody's workin, workin, workin. Everybody's workin and havin fun. Mr. xxxx is a great teacher

25 times, "Mr. xxxx is the man."

I have found that AP classes can be every bit as good as the equivelent college course. It depends on the standards set ;by the district and the quality of teachers selected to instruct those AP sections.

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