A surprising education success story

In my high school in the 1970s, if you wanted any serious instruction, AP courses were your only option.  Nevertheless, I never sat for any AP tests; my university had no required freshman courses to place out of, and I never sensed that any prerequisite courses were likely to waste my time.  It was all I could do to keep up with a full course load at the suddenly much more challenging level that awaited me after I left public high school.  The AP high school courses nevertheless were quite good, an adequate preparation for a rigorous university, if not necessarily a substitute for freshman year.  If I had chosen to attend a state school, I might well have placed out of many freshman courses, since many of them amounted to remedial high school instruction.

This AEI article claims that AP has succeeded notably in expanding its market reach during the last decade or two, without sacrificing its quality control.  There have been reports of PC nonsense influencing the exams, but the overall rigor remains high.


Anonymous said...

My youngest graduated from a highly-ranked public California high school last year, so I think I have some pertinent observations.

The AP courses were the ones that interested both him (he would get the full range of grades, nearly every semester) and his older, more academically-oriented (nearly straight As, no Cs) brother. The lower-level classes were less satisfying, and the math courses in both middle school and high school were often taught by incompetent people.

The problems start in middle school, and the ordinary classes in high school. If you want to see where the schools place those teachers who are underperforming, look there.

The middle school couldn't teach geometry.


Grim said...

I took the AP European History course, which was in those days quite decent.

Ymar Sakar said...

The college prep classes cater to mainstream students of average ambition and willpower. Meaning, the teachers have problems handling disruption and the more ambitious, have their careers distracted by their fellows who are out of control.

The higher classes have more unified vision and lower student counts, making it easier for a teacher to manage. ALthough, it also allows the absorption of more incompetent teachers, since brilliant and motivated students tend to learn on their own.