Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT) supposes we’ll still be talking about the Ron DeSantis, Florida’s I-was-elected-by-a-margin-of-19-percent-so-shut-up governor, rejection of the new AP course, still being piloted, on African-American Studies in 2026 as he exits the executive mansion in Tallahassee.
Today let’s look at the alternatives to Advanced Placement courses and exams because Florida, under the prodding of its self-designated Top Gov (has he never seen the disastrous Dukakis tank ride from 1988? Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT) remembers the scorn as people laughed and said Dukakis looked like Mr. Magoo. Must not since he replicated the comical effort with a campaign ad that tried to remind us of his Navy days, not as an aviator, but a lawyer,) is feuding with the College Board and wants to ban them from Florida including AP courses and exams.
Executive summary: There is no alternative to AP. Forget those reports of replacing the SAT with the CLT; the people behind CLT have nothing in regard to offering courses or exams for college credit. AICE (the Cambridge program) and IB are diploma programs, not a la carte offerings.
Before entertaining proposed alternatives, let’s hear from AP themselves. GOT as the AP Coordinator for his high school often has behind-the-scenes access that the general public does not. Last October, he was able to listen to a recording of a presentation made by a College Board VP about research into AP courses and the benefit they provide.
The Veep revealed that AP research concluded that there is little benefit to high school students taking more than 5 classes and exams. Above that, their research showed that additional AP exams did not shorten the time students spent in college earning their bachelor degrees. He offered two takeaways: One, we could greatly reduce the stress and anxiety of teenagers by not pushing them into too many AP classes with the accompanying heavy courseload; Two, schools should grow their AP programs not by getting existing AP students to take more classes, but by getting additional students to take an AP class.
That’s a huge difference between AP and the proposed alternatives, IB and AICE (Cambridge.) The latter are diploma programmes (English spelling deliberate.) Students are able to receive college credit for earning their IB or AICE diploma, but it’s all or nothing. Upon entering the program, they will spend their junior and senior years of high school taking a prescribed curriculum that includes core subjects like English, Science, and Math, theory of knowledge courses in which they study how we learn, and an extended essay, a research project into a topic of their choosing.
None of that is optional. IB and AICE students have to do it all or get no benefit from their efforts.
There are AP magnet programs that set expectations that students will take 8 to 10 AP classes and exams in their four years. But that is not necessary. AP allows an a la carte approach. Students can take one or two classes for which they have a particular affinity and not bother with others.
The advantage to that approach is that students have the chance to be teenagers in all their passion, hobbies, sports, after-school clubs, and goofiness. They can make choices about how much acceleration they will endure and they can focus on their developmental agenda as they choose versus an academic one.
Please understand that GOT is not trying to defend or make a case for AP. He is merely pointing out the uniqueness of the offering.
GOT looked at the CLT or Classical Learning Test. It has nothing to do with offering college-level classes in high school and the chance to earn college credits through passing end-of-the-year exams.
What are the alternatives to AP? Google to the rescue (?) in response to that question:
And just for giggles, you can check out this link. It says the same thing as above. No one gets college credit for extracurricular activities, not even the jocks who will get a full ride because of their talent on the gridiron, court, or diamond. Same for honors courses. Same for independent study.
Dual enrollment is an option, but again, it is an all-or-nothing approach. Students take classes under the auspices of a college or university that will gain them credits for high school graduation and a two-year college Associate Degree. That’s nothing to be sneezed at, but they don’t get the opportunity to limit themselves to one or two classes if they’re not up to the time and effort demanded.
There’s no alternative to AP. So if Ron DeSantis, in a typical pique because someone challenged him, forbids high schools from participating in the Advanced Placement program, he deprives them of this option with nothing to replace it.
Unless he orders Florida’s universities to remake their freshman survey courses into something high school students can do and to require them to grant credit. One never knows what Little Napoleon will do next.
But that would limit Florida students who gain those credits to Florida universities. They would find themselves at a severe competitive disadvantage if they want to go out of state to colleges like Harvard or Yale, you know–the ones DeSantis attended.
In the days ahead, we can count on Top Gov and his minions to employ sleight of hand to keep us diverted from this reality.
One thought on “AP The Never-Ending Story”
Here’s a problem with the AP mindset. AP is an expensive curriculum-in-a-can for districts to purchase and they want it utilized to the max by the most students. It’s now called AP for All. In districts that implement the AP program in this way, they do it by getting rid of Honors classes and pushing those students into all the AP classes. Those that can’t or don’t want to “participate” are forced to sit in classes that offer very little learning and are rife with behavior problems. Anything the College Board puts on the education “market” is just a dreadful mess for students. And, to top it off, most colleges aren’t even accepting the scores for credit….colleges were losing lots of $$$ in that deal! I hate/detest/abhor College Board and all of its scam product$.