Advanced placement (AP) courses can help high school students save money on higher education by allowing them to skip some early degree requirements. However, new research has found the courses don’t really predict college success.
The study, published by the Brookings Institute, showed that students who took AP courses in high school only scored marginally better in their college classes.
“For example, for students of similar race, socioeconomic status, and high school standardized test scores, those who took a year of high school economics earn a final grade in their college economics class 0.03 points higher than students who have never encountered that subject before,” authors of the report wrote. “What’s more, these trivially small differences hold even for students who took exactly the same college course.”
The study reported that while 82% of all high school students earn a diploma, college completion rates remain stagnate because students often arrive on campus “ill-prepared for advanced courses.” The researchers recommended schools use AP courses that require critical-thinking skills because many universities make students take those type of courses once they are on campus, even if they already have AP courses to their credit.
“National assessments need to follow students through college graduation to understand what works and what does not over the long term,” the authors concluded. “To date, many standardized tests (including international assessments) simply assume that performance in high school necessarily predicts later success, without revealing how students use such knowledge and skills in college classes or to finish their degree.”