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March 24, 2013

Enrollment in Advanced Placement courses soars

(Continued)

A 2009 review of the AP program by the conservative educational policy think tank Fordham Institute included surveys of AP teachers from around the country. Teachers overwhelmingly reported they did not believe the quality and rigor of AP classes and exams had declined as enrollment increased, but 52 percent of those surveyed worried that some students “may be in over their heads,” as districts have increased enrollment by actively recruiting students.

Nehring said two key questions about AP is if the program fits into what communities want their students to know when they graduation and what kind of support the district is providing for the students it recruits.

“One of the pitfalls is if a school district says anyone can take AP now without taking into consideration how to prepare students who are bright but don’t quite have the skills needed to succeed in the course,” he said. “If you take them and throw them in the course, it could be a disaster.”

Orlov said the Mass Science + Math Initiative has worked to broaden training of teachers in middle and high schools so they can prepare students for tougher classes that require more work and move at a faster pace.

Several students at Methuen, though, said the extra workload has helped them. “It’s a lot more work, but it’s made me more responsible,” Lopez said.

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