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Shortchanged: How Advanced Placement Cheats Students

Shortchanged: How Advanced Placement Cheats Students

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Every year, millions of students take Advanced Placement (AP) exams hoping to score enough points to earn college credit and save on their tuition bill. But are they getting a real college education? The College Board says that AP classes and exams make the AP program more accessible and represent a step forward for educational justice. But the program's commitment to standardized testing no longer reflects its original promise of delivering meaningful college-level curriculum to high school students.

In Shortchanged, education scholar Annie Abrams uncovers the political and pedagogical traditions that led to the program's development in the 1950s. In revealing the founders' intentions of aligning liberal arts education across high schools and colleges in ways they believed would protect democracy, Abrams questions the collateral damage caused by moving away from this vision. The AP program is the College Board's greatest source of revenue, yet its financial success belies the founding principles it has abandoned.

Instead of arguing for a wholesale restoration of the program, Shortchanged considers the nation's contemporary needs. Abrams advocates for broader access to the liberal arts through robust public funding of secondary and higher education and a dismantling of the standardized testing regime. Shortchanged illuminates a better way to offer a quality liberal arts education to high school students while preparing them for college.

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