Not long ago, Advanced Placement exams were mostly for top students looking to challenge themselves and get a head start on college credit. Not anymore.
In the next two weeks, 2 million students will take 3.7 million end-of-year AP exams -- figures well over double those from a decade ago. With no national curriculum, AP has become the de facto gold standard for high school rigor. States and high schools are pushing AP classes and exams as a way to raise standards across the board, in some cases tying AP to bonuses. And the federal government is helping cover the exam fees.
Now, AP's rapid growth is reaching even schools serving some of the most disadvantaged students. These schools are embracing AP as a comprehensive toolkit for toughening coursework, emphasizing college preparation and instilling a "culture of excellence."
On the down side, the exams are difficult to pass. While some educators insist the coursework itself is a valuable experience, they also wonder whether pushing poorly prepared students to take college-level classes is a good idea.
258-c-18-(Diane Kepley, AP correspondent)-"high exam scores"-AP correspondent Diane Kepley reports there has been rapid growth in the Advanced Placement program at many schools around the country. (5 May 2012)
<<CUT *258 (05/05/12)>> 00:18 "high exam scores"
257-v-31-(Diane Kepley, AP correspondent)--Two million students nationwide are getting ready to take their Advanced Placement finals - but there are questions about whether those classes are a good fit in all schools. AP correspondent Diane Kepley reports. (5 May 2012)
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259-c-17-(Diane Kepley, AP correspondent)-"into AP programs"-AP correspondent Diane Kepley reports educators believe students who take Advanced Placement courses have mixed results at the college level. (5 May 2012)
<<CUT *259 (05/05/12)>> 00:17 "into AP programs"