Study Confirms A.P. Courses' Value
The Advanced Placement Program is providing "a model for improving educational quality," according to teachers of advanced-placement courses surveyed recently by the College Board, the sponsor of the 30-year-old project.
Most ap teachers surveyed credit the program with raising educational standards and improving students' ability to analyze and synthesize information, to express themselves orally and in writing, and to study, plan, and conduct research.
In addition, the teachers reported that teaching the ap courses "challenges" them and has increased their satisfaction with the profession.
The Advanced Placement Program's curriculum guides teachers in providing college-level instruction to high-school students that can lead to advanced standing in college.
"The survey verifies years of anecdotal information on Advanced Placement's ability to improve the quality of education in a school and supports earlier findings on benefits to students," said George H. Hanford, president of the College Board, a nonprofit association of more than 2,500 colleges, universities, and schools.
The survey, commissioned by the College Board on the 30th anniversary of the Advanced Placement Program and conducted by Research & Forecasts Inc., an independent survey firm, sampled the views of 1,513 advanced-placement teachers from 600 high schools.
According to College Board figures, ap courses are taught in 29 percent of the nation's high schools, preparing more than 200,000 students for the ap examinations. Within the past decade, the number of participating schools has doubled and the number of students involved has tripled, according to Mr. Hanford.
The College Board provides participating schools with curriculum materials in 24 college-level courses in 13 subjects, examinations for students, and workshops and institutes to assist teachers.
Ninety percent of the ap teachers polled said that advanced-placement courses can help raise academic standards throughout a school or school system.
Eighty percent said the courses provide incentives, goals, and models to students who are younger than ap students, and more than half said the courses can help improve the quality of teaching in preceding grades.
There also are benefits that more directly affect students, the teachers said: 26 percent reported that ap students develop an increased interest in learning; 20 percent said students experience a more productive senior year; and 14 percent said that the ap courses help students increase their self-confidence.
Effect on Teachers
According to Mr. Hanford, one of the most positive results of the Advanced Placement Program is the teachers' response to the courses.
"Their satisfaction with teaching is phenomenally high by today's standards," he said, "and many teachers attribute their satisfaction directly or indirectly to their ap courses."
Ninety-eight percent of the teachers said their ap courses challenge them and 92 percent said the courses can increase teacher interest, motivation, and enthusiasm.
Almost all (97 percent) of the ap teachers surveyed said they are satisfied with teaching as a profession and 90 percent said ap courses play a role in their satisfaction.
Although 90 percent of the teachers said teaching ap courses requires more of their time, "the extra work does not dampen teacher enthusiasm," Mr. Hanford said. Two-thirds of the teachers said participation in the Advanced Placement Program can help a school system retain good teachers.