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THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY ...(X)

Advanced Placement Courses--Part Two

(The SECOND of a four-part CNBNEWS  series Dumbing Down American Education)

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Dorothy Philbin I CNBNews Contributor

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY (VIX) ...Dumbing Down Education Part I

                                                                

 A friend of mine has a grandson who will graduate from high school in June.  No big thing?  The grandson is graduating with a high school diploma plus an Associate's Degree.  By taking advanced placement courses this student was able to polish off two years of college while in high school.
 
Should students be able to do this?  Are they learning as much by taking AP courses online as they would in a college classroom?  No, absolutely not!  High school is high school and college is college.  They are different.  They are not interchangeable.   Internet courses are not of the same quality of classroom courses.  We know that as a result of closing schools during the pandemic.  When so many students are in an Advanced Placement program either the school is exceptional or the criteria for the AP program are not college level.
 
The Advanced Placement program was started in 1955 but didn't get much traction until the late 1980s into the 1990s.  At that time suddenly every parent I knew was bragging that his/her children were in an Honors Program or Advance Placement.  Do I have that many exceptional friends?  I don't think so.  
 
Here is the scoring for the AP courses: Screen Shot 2022-02-04 at 20.54.21
 
    5    Exceptionally Well Qualified
    4    Well Qualified
    3    Qualified
    2    Possibly Qualified
    1    No Recommended
 
In the past few decades educational professionals have decided that giving a raw grade is bad for the student's psychological well-being.  Telling the student he scored a 75 is no longer acceptable; we have to encourage the student by sugar coating the 75.  Why?  If the student thinks he is doing well with the 75 (a/k/a meeting expectations) why should he try harder?  The mentality is much like giving each team member a trophy.  The teammate who does nothing gets a trophy so he doesn't work.  The teammate who played his heart out and won the game for the team won't try as hard the next time because he will get a trophy regardless.  It is the same mentality.
 
Let's look at the AP scoring as raw scores - they don't look so good.
 
    5 = 100%  that is definitely an A by old school standards
    4 =   75%  that is a C by old school standards
    3 =   50%  that is a failing grade by old school standards
    2 =   25%  that is failing miserably by any standards
    1 =     0%  should the student be wasting everyone's time?
 
Advocates for the AP program are going to say "but these are college-level courses."  I'm going to answer that by saying "they are online courses which may or may not be college level."  Look at what has happened to the AP program over the past several years.
 
May, 2011 - The scoring was changed.  No longer would points be taken off for incorrect answers.  Even if a student only got one or two wrong in 2011 he got a better grade than he would have in 2010.
 
May 2016 to 2017 - World History exam changed to 55 questions instead of 70.  Those 55 questions account for 40% of the total grade instead of 50%.  Also, there were four short essays instead of one long essay.  Calculus - time format changed.
 
May 2018 - 2019 - U.S. Government & Politics exam changed from 60 questions in 45 minutes to 55 questions in 80 minutes.  The number of choices on multiple choice questions changed from five to four.  That changes the timing from 45 seconds per answer to 1 minute 45 seconds per answer.  That is more than double the time.  The change from five choices to four gives another 20% advantage.
 
2020 - (The excuse was the COVID but schools closed about March 13, 2020 so that does not ring true.)  The exam only covered the first 75% of the course.  Again, why?  The students are at home!  Exams are open notes, open books, and open online. 
 
Of course, everyone is going to get college credit.  There are no rules and no structure.  There are dozens of surveys evaluating the educational quality of various countries.  The latest survey I heard places the American educational program at sixth in 1990 and 27th today.  However, our math scores are 38th in the surveyed countries.
 
_____________________________
 
Dorothy Philbin:
BA            Foreign Languages                         Rutgers
BS              Business Management                  Rutgers
MBA           Business Management                  Drexel 
M. Ed         Education (K-6, ESL, MYSS)      St. Joseph's
ABD PhD  Educational Law and Finance     Nova Southeastern
 
Taught:      8 years   Rutgers University
                17 years   Public School Systems
 
 
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