Seven DC-Area Private Schools Scrap Their AP Courses

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter
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Seven private schools in or around the D.C. metropolitan area announced Monday that they will scrap their Advanced Placement (AP) programs over the course of four years.

Georgetown Day, Holton-Arms School, Landon, National Cathedral, Potomac and Sidwell Friends, will drop the courses, arguing that the program is nonessential for students headed to college and criticized its focus on memorization and teaching to the test, according to a statement obtained by The Washington Post.

“We believe a curriculum oriented toward collaborative, experiential and interdisciplinary learning will not only better prepare our students for college and their professional futures, but also result in more engaging programs for both students and faculty,” the schools wrote.

Georgetown Day School head Russell Shaw said his institution found AP too restrictive. While his school will not offer AP courses, he said that students will still be allowed to take AP tests.

Holton-Arms teacher Patty Carver added: “Too much minutiae. Too much emphasis on test preparation.”

The teacher said she plans to use her liberty from prepping students for AP tests to include more current events.

By deciding to distance themselves from the AP program, the schools stand opposite a 10-year trend where 70 percent more public high school graduates took one or more AP tests.

AP is a “catalyst for raising the level of rigor in the nation’s high schools — especially for low-income students, students of color and those traditionally underserved in American public education,” Georgetown University think tank director Thomas Toch told WaPo. He said private schools “don’t feel beholden to any strategy or specialized curriculum.”

Colleges typically use AP courses, along with International Baccalaureate and dual-enrollment classes to measure academic rigor. College Board, an organization which, along with running the SAT, supervises the AP program, said students from the seven schools that made the statement have earned almost 40,000 college credit hours over the last ten years.

“That equates to nearly $59 million in tuition savings at highly selective colleges, not to mention the head start these students received in their majors,” especially STEM, College Board said. “At a time when the placement, credit and admission benefits of AP have never been greater, it’s surprising that these schools would choose to deny their students these advantages.”

College Board suffered another blow in June when the University of Chicago became the first top-10 research university in the country to spike its SAT requirement for applicants. (RELATED: University Of Chicago Scraps SAT/ACT Admission Requirement)

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