Taxpayers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to nudge more students into Advanced Placement classes — but a close look at test scores suggests much of the investment has been wasted.
Expanding participation in AP classes has been a bipartisan goal, promoted by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and by Republican governors including Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and John Kasich of Ohio. In the last five years, the federal government has spent $275 million to promote the classes and subsidize exam fees for low-income students; states have spent many millions more.
Enrollment in AP classes has soared. But data analyzed by POLITICO shows that the number of kids who bomb the AP exams is growing even more rapidly. The class of 2012, for instance, failed nearly 1.3 million AP exams during their high school careers. That’s a lot of time and money down the drain; research shows that students don’t reap any measurable benefit from AP classes unless they do well enough to pass the $89 end-of-course exam.