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Shortchanged

How Advanced Placement Cheats Students

Annie Abrams

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How the College Board's emphasis on standardized testing has led the AP program astray.

Every year, millions of students take Advanced Placement (AP) exams hoping to score enough points to earn college credit and save on their tuition bill. But are they getting a real college education? The College Board says that AP classes and exams make the AP program more accessible and represent a step forward for educational justice. But the program's commitment to standardized testing no longer reflects its original promise of delivering meaningful college-level curriculum to high school students.

In Sho…

How the College Board's emphasis on standardized testing has led the AP program astray.

Every year, millions of students take Advanced Placement (AP) exams hoping to score enough points to earn college credit and save on their tuition bill. But are they getting a real college education? The College Board says that AP classes and exams make the AP program more accessible and represent a step forward for educational justice. But the program's commitment to standardized testing no longer reflects its original promise of delivering meaningful college-level curriculum to high school students.

In Shortchanged, education scholar Annie Abrams uncovers the political and pedagogical traditions that led to the program's development in the 1950s. In revealing the founders' intentions of aligning liberal arts education across high schools and colleges in ways they believed would protect democracy, Abrams questions the collateral damage caused by moving away from this vision. The AP program is the College Board's greatest source of revenue, yet its financial success belies the founding principles it has abandoned.

Instead of arguing for a wholesale restoration of the program, Shortchanged considers the nation's contemporary needs. Abrams advocates for broader access to the liberal arts through robust public funding of secondary and higher education and a dismantling of the standardized testing regime. Shortchanged illuminates a better way to offer a quality liberal arts education to high school students while preparing them for college.

Reviews

Reviews

Annie Abrams pulls back the curtain on the AP program to show that it has betrayed its founding ideals of providing high school students a liberal arts education. Funny, thoughtful, and informed by Abrams's experience teaching AP courses, Shortchanged convinces us that the AP program does not deserve its platinum reputation.

Shortchanged is a fascinating exploration of the powerful cultural and institutional role that Advanced Placement plays in America. A scholar and a teacher, Abrams deftly recounts the little-known history of a ubiquitous institution that is actually a chronicle of the meritocratic ideal, the educational system, and the inequalities it purports to redress yet perpetuates.

Annie Abrams demonstrates not only that the current AP regime has drifted far from its original mission but that today it threatens the spirit of liberal education in a democracy. Far from encouraging independent thought and creative teaching, it has become a money-making machine that stifles students' and teachers' engagement with meaningful subject matter.

With justified alarm, Shortchanged traces the evolution of the AP program from the democratic aspirations of its founders to an increasingly mechanized application of standards that reward formulaic thinking and intellectual conformity. Abrams warns us that the automated and rubric-driven assessment of thinking undermines liberal education. Every educator should heed that warning.

Abrams's compelling account of the rise and expansion of the AP program offers a sharp reminder that privatization comes in many guises. She deftly punctures the AP's educational justice rhetoric, demanding a reckoning with a system in which a private company defines the goals and purposes of public education.

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Book Details

Release Date
Publication Date
Status
Preorder
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
240
ISBN
9781421446295
Illustration Description
1 b&w illus
Table of Contents

Introduction: Collecting Data
Part 1: Validity
1. Rational Reform
2. Common Purposes and Common Standards
3. The Blueprint
Part 2: Accountability
4. Copy Paste Classroom
5. Artificial Intelligence
6. Better

Introduction: Collecting Data
Part 1: Validity
1. Rational Reform
2. Common Purposes and Common Standards
3. The Blueprint
Part 2: Accountability
4. Copy Paste Classroom
5. Artificial Intelligence
6. Better Citizens
Conclusion: Opportunity and Transparency
Epilogue: Formative Assessments
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Annie Abrams

Annie Abrams teaches high school English. She holds a doctorate in American literary history from New York University.