Advanced Placement and Today's World
There aren't many people who would deny that American education is facing some thorny issues.Â
One approach to these issues is to lower the water rather than to raise the bridge. U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander suggested to the American Council of Education that one way to cut costs was to institute a three-year bachelor's degree in order to save "one fourth of the time and up to a third of the cost." Lamar Alexander is a thoughtful man, but it is troubling to think that less education would be considered an answer to our problems. This is especially troubling when one noticesÂ that students around the globe are being asked to do more work, not less, and the Europeans seem just now to be aligning with our standards with the implementation of the Bologna Plan in 2010.Â
At the moment, many students seem to be addressing the issue of cost by leaving four-year institutions and enrolling at two-year schools. Community colleges are enjoying marked growth and recently the American Association of Community Colleges noted that a third of these colleges' new students had previously been enrolled at four-year schools. Moreover, there is some evidence that this "reverse transfer" process may benefit students, helping them to obtain a degree eventually.Â
There are lots of moving parts, but one proven method of saving time and money is the College Board's Advanced Placement (AP) programs. AP offers an efficient way to master many introductory college courses, and the College Board offers evidence that "...a score of 3 or higher in particular, is a strong predictor of a student's ability to persist in college and earn a bachelor's degree." In some cases, AP can provide a cost-cutting alternative to Lamar Alexander's plan.Â
AP is not a panacea because availability and participation are still spotty, but it seems to be one good answer.
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