I Wish I Could Say More Against AP Classes

I just got done reading all of my best arguments against AP classes. The problem is that I didn't write the article first. What I will do is summarize a bit of what the writer did say, adding my own commentary to the argument. Here's the original article by John Tierney: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/10/ap-classes-are-a-scam/263456/

Let's start with some arguments the author does not mention: one is that school ranking systems that use AP classes as a major criteria have led to schools adding more and more offerings in order to stay competitive with other schools. I know this was a push in my own district, and I know we cut back on honors classes in order to make sure we offered an AP version, which was likely repeated in other departments. However, if AP classes were great for students, I could probably accept the negatives. The problem is that I have seen little to say AP classes are good for anyone except College Board. Another argument I'd make is that the classes are endless facts with no purpose for those who DON'T take the test, and not everyone will take the test. I can barely imagine how worthless it must have seemed to the other kids in my class who did not want to attempt the test. At least with the test, there's a purpose to the awful class.

Responding to some of John Tierney's concerns in the linked article, I will add my own views. I took an AP test as a senior in high school and taught non-AP English at a suburban high school for over a decade, so I have a background in hearing a lot about the AP. As a student, I bought into the getting out of a class aspect, so I took the test. I barely studies after barely learning anything in a class of less than 10 students at one of Milwaukee's roughest schools. However, I still got a 3/5 on the test, which meant I got out of taking an elective in college. I would have needed a 4 or 5 to get out of history. So I got to skip ballroom dancing or camping class, so the test saved me a few hundred dollars, I guess, and that's about how I saw it. When I took actual US history in college, it was much more specific and in-depth, with a professor who though he was the next Howard Zinn. It was nothing like my AP class, and all of the grades were based on papers, not SAT-style tests of memorized facts.

The problem is that the AP is a big money maker, it save some students/parents some money, it looks good on school documents, and there's no replacement right now, so it's not going away until all colleges refuse to acknowledge the scores. It's not up to high schools to fall behind other local schools or students to want to take an extra college class. This one is fully up to colleges to just come clean and tell us that the classes are not like the college versions, the tests are fairly irrelevant to college performance, and the number of AP classes at a given high school should not be a factor in determining the worth of that high school. And the colleges could make students take more required classes, so it seems to make sense. Money, power, politics, and probably tradition may play roles in keeping the AP around for another generation of suckers.