This paper uses college standards to evaluate the advanced placement (AP)
program. The College Board's claim that a score of 3 "qualifies" disagrees
with the facts of college acceptance. The pass rate has dropped from 51
percent in 1998 to 39 percent in 2006. More telling is the incremental pass
rate of 29 percent, which reflects the changes over the 1998-2006 period. By
objective measure, the expansion of AP courses into inner city schools has
failed: African American and Mexican American (AP Spanish excepted)
minorities have an incremental pass rate near 10 percent. These
shortcomings, which contradict the claim that AP is "for everyone," call for
a reform of AP admissions policy.



Equity, Excellence And Scaling Up


Advanced Placement began focused on excellence for bright prep school
students headed for Ivy League colleges.   Today, in search of equity, it
has "scaled up" by reaching out to underserved groups-especially racial
minorities-and expanded to one of the largest programs in American
educational history.  


Program Evaluation


This paper follows up an earlier, critical assessment of the AP program
(Lichten, 2000). Based on college acceptance, the earlier paper showed a
growing failure rate of the program, especially among minorities; indicated
that a score of 3 no longer qualified; argued that the goal of 10 AP courses
in every high school was unrealistic; found government mandates and earmarks
for AP to be dubious; and the need for quality, not quantity of examination


The SAT and AP Programs Compared


Both the AP and SAT initially served an elite, Ivy League population, but
now reach a much wider group. The SAT presented two problems: the first was
a downward drift in SAT scores over the years.  In successful response,
(Dorans, 2002) "recentered" SAT tests to 500, with a standard deviation of
100.  The second difficulty is the "black-white test gap," which is nearly a
century old and remains unsolved (Shuey, 1966; Osborne & McGurk, 1982;
Jencks & Phillips, 1998).  How this gap affects the SAT and AP score
distributions is shown in Figures 1A and 1B. 

Equity and Excellence in the College Board Advanced Placement Program

by William Lichten <>  -
January 16, 2007



Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: January 16,
2007 <>  ID Number:
12928, Date Accessed: 1/24/2007 12:21:08 PM

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