AP Caveat: Opportunity Does Not Equal Outcome

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To the Editor:

Attempting to increase the number of poor and minority students enrolled in Advanced Placement classes is a worthy goal ("Advanced Placement Courses Cast Wider Net," Nov. 3, 2004), but it should include one caveat: Equal opportunity does not necessarily result in equal outcomes.

That’s particularly the case when AP classes are proliferating so rapidly. A report by the National Research Council raised concerns about teacher preparation and quality control. In California, for example, the number of students taking AP classes nearly tripled between 1988 and 2000.

Therein lies the danger. If students who are admitted to the Advanced Placement programs at their schools exhibit any pattern of failure that can be traced to racial or economic factors, then the entire program at the school in question will be subject to eventual termination.

That’s unfortunate because no matter how able or motivated students are when they are enrolled, not all will necessarily perform at a level high enough to qualify for AP credit.

Walt Gardner
Los Angeles, Calif.

Vol. 24, Issue 12, Page 34

Published in Print: November 17, 2004, as AP Caveat: Opportunity Does Not Equal Outcome

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