February 2, 2007

AP Courses do benefit students

Posted in Student Loan News at 1:44 PM by Joe From Boston

Here’s an interesting article regarding two studies which show that AP (advanced placement) courses really do benefit students.

Studies Find Benefits to Advanced Placement Courses:
Good Scores on AP Exams Correlate With Better College Grades and Graduation Rates, Data on Texas Students Show

By Jay Mathews

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 29, 2007; Page B02

In the midst of a national debate over whether Advanced Placement courses place too much pressure on U.S. high school students, a team of Texas researchers has concluded that the difficult courses and three-hour exams are worth it.

In the largest study ever of the impact of AP on college success, which looked at 222,289 students from all backgrounds attending a wide range of Texas universities, the researchers said they found “strong evidence of benefits to students who participate in both AP courses and exams in terms of higher GPAs, credit hours earned and four-year graduation rates.”

A separate University of Texas study of 24,941 students said those who used their AP credits to take more advanced courses in college had better grades in those courses than similar students who first took college introductory courses instead of AP in 10 subjects.

“Both of these papers are home runs. They definitely settle a lot,” said Joseph Hawkins, an AP expert and senior study director for the private research firm Westat in Rockville.

The new studies run counter to an unpublished Harvard University and University of Virginia study that casts doubt on the worth of AP science courses and contradict some critics who say that high school courses, even with an AP label, cannot match the depth of college introductory courses.

The new studies constitute the largest mass of new data on AP since participation in the College Board program began to skyrocket a decade ago. The College Board, which paid for both studies, is expected to announce next week that nearly 2.3 million AP tests for 37 courses were given in 2006, a 200 percent increase since 1995. Some college admissions experts speculate that the college-level exams, written and graded by independent experts, will eventually supplant the SAT and ACT as the country’s most important tests.

Read the remainder of the article online.