Missing the Point: The True Value of Advanced Placement By Ilana Garon

Missing the Point: The True Value of Advanced Placement

Earlier this month, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire made waves by instating a new policy that students could no longer gain college credits from high scores on A.... A spokesperson from Dartmouth explained the college's reasoning--that too many students, despite coming in with AP exams under their belts, lacked the necessary knowledge to skip the introductory-level courses (which AP exams would traditionally allow students to place out of), as determined by somewhat questionable metrics. High schools and education commentators across America are crying "elitism," citing the decision as an example of Dartmouth's disinterest in providing opportunities to low-income students, who may have been able to save thousands of dollars on tuition through obtaining AP credits.

I read this series of articles while shaking my head. My first thought was that, while I could see a lot of middle class students losing out on the chance to save thousands of dollars on AP credits, that situation simply wasn't the reality for most of the kids in my class, when I taught AP English Literature & Composition several years ago. In a small, inner-city public school, our AP program wasn't developed or varied enough that we'd have students accumulating tons of AP credits (who now would be unable to use them); as a school, we only offered a maximum of 4-5 AP courses in a given school year, some of which could not be taken simultaneously. Very few students qualified or even opted to take the courses, and fewer yet received passing scores. There was no way our students could have accumulated the amount of AP credit across the board to make a sizable dent in any private college tuition.

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