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Some States Encouraging Higher AP Benchmarks

Advanced placement (AP) classes are fairly popular among college bound high school students in the United States. They allow students to earn college credit or advanced placement upon earning a satisfactory grade on the final AP exam. But just because the classes are popular does not mean they are easy. Advanced placement classes are similar to those in college because they are more rigorous and require much more work from students than typical high school courses do. And now, some states’ Departments of Education have asked schools systems to increase their AP passing rate. Some experts believe this to be a grave mistake, while others think it’s a step in the right direction academically.

One state, Indiana, has been urged by its DOE to increase the number of students passing at least one AP exam to 25 percent. Supporters believe that the students enrolled in and passing the AP courses subsequently perform better while attending college. Detractors only see this new benchmark as a sure way to keep more students from earning AP credits which can hurt their chances of college admission. Some states’ Departments of Education, including that of Indiana, believe that changing graduation requirements will help high schools meet the new challenge. These changes can include mandatory enrollment in at least two advanced placement courses, several dual-credit courses, an International Baccalaureate degree or a satisfactory score on the ACT or SAT exam. Dual credit courses allow high school students to simultaneously earn credits toward their high school diploma, as well as college credits. The International Baccalaureate is a program similar to the AP program in that the classes taught are very rigorous and can be used towards a college diploma, but with a more international focus. To receive the IB, students must earn a satisfactory score on the final exam, complete a special project and 150 hours of community service. Those that are against the new benchmark believe that school systems will only encourage those students to enroll in AP classes that are truly not prepared for the work, or that teachers will begin “teaching for the test” in hopes of increasing scores, rather than teaching the material naturally.

Whether your state has adopted a new benchmark for passing the AP exams or not, you should consider the benefits of these courses. AP classes are a great way for students to challenge themselves and prepare for college academically.

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