The Real Value of Advanced Placement
A recent Miami Herald article questioned the worth of Advanced Placement (AP) courses in Florida’s K-12 system after the state experienced a slight drop in scores in 2012. While experts acknowledged the decrease, they also explained that the benefits of AP are realized far beyond the scores. From their perspective, the exposure and access to AP have proven to help students become better prepared for post-secondary education, and the true value of the experience for students is often immeasurable.
Alabama has done remarkably well in increasing AP access and exposure to more disadvantaged students. In fact, it ranked #1 in the nation last year for AP growth in English, math and science, and four Alabama Districts were among last year’s winners of the College Board National Honor Roll.
The Montgomery district was further recognized as an honor roll system with over 30% minorities enrolled, increasing access to higher-level coursework to students with more socio-economic challenges and fewer financial advantages.
“The intense support provided through A+ College Ready’s Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program (APTIP) has resulted in 64 program schools achieving an average 110% increase in passing math, science and English qualifying scores during their first year of participation. This increase is well above the national average,” said A+ College Ready President, Mary Boehm.
The impact on students through the successful AP implementation by A+ College Ready is measurable, according to recent state data. While only 17% of Alabama’s public schools participate in the A+ College Ready program, they account for 52% of the state’s total AP qualifying scores in math, science and English, and 52% qualifying scores by minority students.
“We were able to identify three factors that were related to increasing a postsecondary students’ chances of staying on track to a credential as much as 53 percent, and the process begins in high school,” said Boehm in an A+ College Ready blog post. The three factors are high-level mathematics, taking an AP/IB course and academic advising.
Beyond scores, students participating in AP are exposed to a higher level of work, much like college-level courses. Participation in these classes helps improve study habits, increase reading and research skills, and students learn to work under tighter deadlines, promoting improved time management skills.
As pointed out in the Miami Herald article, “The format is supposed to spur critical thinking, independent study and confidence.” Boehm agrees with this view, adding that the “persistence rates” of staying in college are higher for students that enter better prepared for the increased coursework rigor.
“We were able to identify three factors that were related to increasing a postsecondary students’ chances of staying on track to a credential as much as 53 percent, and the process begins in high school,” said Boehm in an A+ College Ready blog post.