The Los Angeles Times reported last week that some high schools have made advanced placement (AP) courses open to all students regardless of ability. If an AP class is oversubscribed, the schools use a random lottery to determine who gets in, meaning some of the best students can be shut out.
This is a really bad idea. An AP course is supposed to teach college-level material, and high-school students can earn college credits if they pass one or more AP tests at the end of the year. These classes should be reserved for students who have demonstrated their potential to do high-level work. And if there is a limit on how large the classes can be, priority should be given to the students who are most likely to benefit.
What’s going on here? One might be tempted to blame the policy on testing companies. I recently wrote about how the College Board foments a yearly panic over low SAT scores in order to keep the test relevant. Not surprisingly, the College Board is also pushing open enrollment in AP courses. The College Board sells the SAT ($51) and the various AP tests ($89 each).