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Are you allowed to take AP courses?

I’ve put together a couple of pictures on the availability of AP courses to students in high schools. Over a third of schools do not offer AP courses. Two thirds of charter schools don’t offer AP courses.

What surprised me even more is that many schools don’t allow students to self-select into AP courses. The specific survey question is “Are students allowed to self-select to participate in any AP courses?” About a quarter of regular schools and nearly half of charter schools (among those offering AP courses) answered “no.”

I suppose a few schools may be answering no because they require all students to take an AP course. I deeply suspect that most of the data is driven by reserving AP courses for the “elite.”


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2 Responses to Are you allowed to take AP courses?

  1. Whenever you’re wondering about school policies, you really need to break it down into those basic categories:

    90-1005 URM schools, charter or comprehensive, that commit fraud because the bulk of their students are operating at 8th grade ability or lower.

    Title I suburban schools that are 50-65% URM, but with a solid population of high ability, high performing whites or Asians. They can’t commit fraud, but they can’t track because of lawsuits.

    Homogeneous suburban schools, predominantly white or Asian. They can track, and if they have URMs, they just relegate them to the lower track. Not enough of them to sue.

    Majority minority schools not only allow, but in the case of charter schools require everyone to take AP. That’s because it’s an easy way for them to qualify for Jay Mathew’s Challenge Index. Moreover, since all the students are low ability, the teachers can teach anything they like, give the kids As even if they have sixth grade abilities (quite common), and basically commit fraud.

    Title I suburban schools with large URM population are pretty much forced to offer open enrollment, because otherwise they get sued or otherwise blamed for racial disparities. In fact, they often target black or Hispanic kids and do a full court press to convince them to sign up for AP. These are the schools that are often forced to lower standards and quality of instruction to avoid failing all the URMs they convinced to take the course.

    Rich or homogenous (white or Asian) suburban schools require students to test into AP, or set a GPA requirement, or teacher recommendation. Thus, they routinely deny high ability kids access to the weighted GPA and resume-boosting AP classes despite the fact that practically everyone applying to these courses are more skilled than the URM kids in the open or forced enrollment classes.

    I don’t know why these high ability, homogeneous suburban schools just don’t open more AP classes, but I suspect it’s because they want a clear rating/ranking of their students.

  2. Glynis says:

    That question isn’t particularly clear, though. Look at what Garfield has to say about it: “AP courses are open to any and all
    students who have completed the necessary pre-requisites,
    and not all AP courses have pre-requisites.” Which sounds like students can self select, except it depends on whether “any” in the survey question means ‘all’ or ‘at least one’. In the latter, Garfield allows self selection, and the former, it doesn’t.

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