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And, the enrollment of underqualified students in these classes is a near-perfect example of the “mismatch” problem, i.e.it robs the mis-assigned students of their opportunity to do well (and learn more) in courses matched to their own level.
The National Association of Scholars and I have been, of course, critical of various steps taken by the College Board in recent years, and we are critical of this initiative with the AP U. History course, exam, and curriculum framework as well. But before turning to what the Commission and the Committee produced, I want to take the time and space to develop some groundwork.
The College Board is a private company founded in 1900 to set standards for college admissions.
The general pass rate on exams fell from 61 percent in 2002 to 57 percent in 2012.
These numbers become more illuminating when we look at the details.
This “preliminary report” is, as the label indicates, a first step.
The changes in the course and in the exam were several years in the making and involved contributions from a thirteen-member “AP U. History Redesign Commission” and a nine-member “AP U. History Curriculum Development and Assessment Committee.” Because Advanced Placement courses and exams play a very significant role in American higher education, I decided as president of the National Association of Scholars to take a close look at the new course, exam, and “curriculum framework.” My colleagues and I at NAS are concerned about the quality of preparation for college that American high school students receive; we are especially concerned about the preparation received by students who attend the nation’s best-regarded colleges and universities; and we have a particular interest in the standards set in the study of U. History, which is one of the foundations for American citizenship.In recent years, the College Board has taken numerous steps, large and small, meant to “expand access,” even if it means lowering standards. They are high school courses, each one of which is, as the College Board puts it, “modeled upon a comparable college course.” Many colleges award academic credit for doing well on an AP exam and allow students to skip over the “comparable” introductory courses.A short list of such steps involving the College Board’s most famous test, the SAT, includes: I recounted some of this a few months ago when the College Board yet again revised the SAT. The College Board has been busy for a while compromising the quality of the Advanced Placement tests as well. A few colleges don’t award academic credit for AP courses but still allow students who scored well on the exams to “place out” of the comparable courses.That quarter of the graduating class that took AP courses, however, isn’t the whole story.The figure contains within it a smaller subset—perhaps about 400,000 students—whose skills roughly match the ostensible level of the courses, and a still smaller subset who are truly talented.The ostensible reasons for opening the AP to all are to encourage poor and minority students to reach higher and to close the “achievement gap.” The initiative has succeeded in the last ten years at more than doubling the number of students who take at least one AP course (up to 2.1 million in 2012).Because some students take exams in multiple subjects, the number of AP exams taken has also soared, from 1.2 million in 2002 to 2.9 million in 2012.The increase in course enrollments and exam-takers, however, has not resulted in spectacular success on the examinations.Some 1.3 million of 2.9 million exam-takers in 2012 failed (by scoring below a “3” on the five point scale).When the President of Lafayette College objected that he “would not be told by any Board whom to admit and not to admit,” Eliot responded with disdain: The President of Lafayette College has misunderstood . No one proposes to deprive Lafayette College of that privilege.” The story is recounted in the 1950 official history of the College Board and was retold in Frederick Rudolph’s invaluable 1962 book, . Those dates are important because they point back to a time when the College Board knew perfectly well what its purpose was. Compare that to what the College Board today says about itself and its past: The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity.Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education.