You’re Not The Genius You Think You Are

by Christopher Paul on April 27, 2011

High schools might be dumbing down AP class requirements to boost college admissions and make themselves look more prestigious.

From the NY Times:

Even though students are getting more credits in more advanced courses, they are not scoring any higher on standardized tests.

The reason, according to a growing body of research, is that the content of these courses is not as high-achieving as their names — the course-title equivalent of grade inflation. Algebra II is sometimes just Algebra I. And College Preparatory Biology can be just Biology.

And from Good:

Back in 1990 (when being an honors student was still prestigious enough), only 5 percent of students enrolled in AP classes. By 2010 the number of students taking supposedly more challenging AP classes rose to 13 percent. The percentage of kids taking AP exams has also almost tripled over the past decade, from 1.2 million in 2000 to 3.1 million in 2010.

Unfortunately, the failure rate—the number of kids scoring only 1 or 2 out of 5—on the exams is higher than its ever been. For students that took an AP exam in 2010, 42.5 percent of them failed. No, the exams aren’t easy—after all, both the classes and exams are supposed to reflect college level work—but on some a student only needs to answer half the questions correctly in order to pass. If the classes are actually being taught at the level of rigor they need to be, the pass rate should be higher.

High School Classes May Be Advanced in Name Only – NY Times via GOOD

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