November 22, 2019

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Monday, October 14, 2019

AP Tests are Bankrupting Students

AP graphicNinety-seven dollars. That’s the price to take one AP test. Keep in mind that most students are taking several AP classes and may have to spend more than $500 to take a few tests. I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks that’s absurd.

Of course, the AP tests do cost the College Board a lot of money because the tests must be written, printed, proctored and graded. However, AP tests are also College Board’s highest source of revenue. According to Jonah Hahn on the bulletin.represent.us, revenue from the 2012 AP tests was $299,570,967. That amount of money is absolutely unnecessary to provide the tests, proved by the fact that College Board makes about $62,000,000 in profit, according to Elena Weissmann in “The College Board: A Very Profitable ‘Nonprofit’” on patch.com. The company has also spent $1,485,750 attempting to influence legislation with lobbyists, reported John Tierney for Atlantic in “AP Classes are a Scam.”

This fact might leave you with an important question: “Isn’t the College Board a non-profit?” Well, technically, yes. It is a very profitable non-profit. As Americans for Educational Testing Reform said in the same Atlantic article, “when a non-profit company is earning those profits, something is wrong.”

Not only is the College Board a fraudulent non-profit, it is actually a huge monopoly. Can you tell me another company that provides AP tests? The SAT? No. It’s only real competitor is the ACT, and even that is only in college testing. Not only are they virtually the only company that provides these tests, but students are basically forced to take them and pay for them. The income qualifications for price reduction for AP tests is often too low for people who, although they are struggling, are not struggling enough to get a reduced price. This is just ridiculous. Testing opportunities should not be for sale.

One reason for the unreasonably high prices of AP tests that often comes up in disagreements is the fact that passing these tests allows students to receive college credits and avoid paying more for the class in college. However, even this claim is flawed. Sorry to break it to you, but AP classes in no way replicate a college environment. “Before teaching in a high school, I taught for almost 25 years at the college level, and almost every one of those years my responsibilities included some equivalent of an introductory American government course. The high-school AP course didn’t begin to hold a candle to any of my college courses. My colleagues said the same was true in their subjects,” explained John Tierney, a previous AP American Government and Politics teacher and college professor, in “AP Classes Are a Scam”. As he said, many previous AP students often have to take the class that they were supposedly avoiding because the AP curriculum was not advanced enough to pass for a real college class. “Increasingly, students don’t receive college credit for high scores on AP courses; they simply are allowed to opt out of the introductory sequence in a major. And more and more students say that’s a bad idea, and that they’re better off taking their department’s courses,” Tierney continued. Many colleges, for example Dartmouth, have stopped giving college credit for AP classes because they are aware of the poor job they do at replicating a college class.

In my opinion, a private company has no business providing standardized tests for the nation. There is way too much personal interest involved, affecting both the content of the tests and the prices. All standardized tests should be free and provided by the government with a reorganization of federal spending, focusing on education. Educating its citizens is one of the most important jobs of a nation. Discouraging higher education with excessive prices while we spend billions of dollars on the military (about 57 percent of tax income) is simply irrational. Education should not be for sale.


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