Schools Consider Cutting AP Courses

April 27, 2010

budget cutIn an effort to trim costs, some school districts are considering cutting back on Advanced Placement courses.

Advanced Placement high school classes, which are college-level courses with exams at the end of the year provided by the College Board, can grant students college credit if they perform well. High school students can sometimes earn up to a full year of college credit at some institutions by taking AP courses.

But the high cost of such programs is becoming prohibitive for some school districts. WGAL in Pennsylvania reports that the Central Dauphin School District is considering cuts to AP courses as well as electives such as band and art. Hundreds of parents protested the cuts this week.

"We are asking you to not take away the classes, the teachers and the resources we need to fulfill a pledge to our students," said Adam Andrechick, a teacher who was quoted by WGAL. "We cannot let them down."

In Wisconsin, Sauk Prairie School District officials also considered cutting the AP program to help plug an expected $780,000 budget shortfall. But the plan was abandoned after administrators realized that cutting the courses would not save money.

Laura Lang, a science teacher at the high school who used to be the faculty administrator for the AP program, told the Sauk Prairie Eagle that the variety of AP courses offered sets the school apart.

"Our college-level courses are phenomenal," she was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Board of Education is considering implementing a new policy which will allow students to receive boosted grades for enrolling in AP classes without being required to take the exam. Those who wish to receive college credit would still need to take the AP tests.

For the past two years, the school district footed the bill for the AP exams, which cost $86 per test for a total of about $700,000. But in an effort to offset a projected $86 million deficit, the district will end the practice. The new policy will effectively allow students to see positive changes on their report card without even taking the exam.

"We don't want to require anything of students that costs money," noted Nelly Mayer, interim deputy superintendant, who was quoted in the Union-Tribune. "It's a legal issue."

Most urban districts in California have already eliminated the AP test requirement for that reason. Only a few demand that students take the exam in order to receive a weighted grade. But some AP teachers expressed concern that the policy change would negatively affect classes.

"If you take the course you should be expected to take the test," said Rachel Tenenbaum, who has taught AP biology for 20 years and was interviewed by the Union-Tribune. "If they lift the requirement, I will change the way I do things. I will give a final exam that is as difficult as the AP exam."

Compiled by Staff


"AP Classes Pulled Off Chopping Block," Sauk Prairie Eagle, April 7, 2010, Jeremiah Tucker

"School District Considers Cutting AP Courses, Electives,", April 27, 2010

"Test Mandate May End for AP Grades," San Diego Union-Tribune, April 27, 2010, Maureen Magee

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