Fifty years ago, the first Advanced Placement classes were seen as a way for high-schoolers to acquaint themselves with college-level work. But today, with 1.8 million students taking them, they’re considered a top-college-admissions requirement. Scarsdale High School in New York, where 70 percent of the 1,500 students enroll in at least one AP course, is proposing to help end the rat race by doing away with AP courses—citing too much time spent on fact- and data-gathering and not enough on imaginative learning. “People nationwide are recognizing what an inhuman obstacle course college admission is, and a big element of that is AP,” says Bruce Hammond, an administrator at a New Mexico prep school that’s already dropped the courses. Some Scarsdale parents complain, however, that their kids need AP credits for entry into the best colleges. And the College Board argues that its AP exams are more flexible—and thus allow for liberal preparation—than most teachers assume. But colleges themselves are coming around to the non-AP approach, noting that substitute courses can be just as rigorous and more creative. In fact, 98 out of the 100 colleges told about Scarsdale High’s proposal said they wouldn’t have a problem with the change.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.