The Advanced Placement (AP) program has been growing rapidly in the last decade. In 1987, a new AP program was begun in American Government and Politics and its impact is beginning to be felt in high schools and colleges across the country. However, there has been no objective assessment of the program communicated and discussed throughout the political science community.
To begin—what is the AP program? The Advanced Placement program offers the equivalent of introductory college courses which may lead to college credit upon satisfactory performance on an AP exam. The AP program is administered by the College Board which contracts with the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to operate the AP examinations. “About 31 percent of American secondary schools currently participate, serving approximately 17 percent of their college-bound students in this way. This use, by both schools and students, has been growing steadily in recent years” (Guide to the AP Program, 1986, p. 4).
The College Board highlights the positive aspects of the AP program for learning, education, and all concerned—students, teachers, and administrators. AP programs are considered part of society's effort to revitalize the educational system in the United States, especially in high schools and higher education. The quality and implications of the AP program are all positively portrayed. Yet, the implementation of the AP program has not been closely examined and publicly discussed.