Prestigious universities value the letters AP (i.e., Advanced Placement) on an applicant's transcript, maintaining that success in AP courses is the best indicator of success in college. But students looking to score points with admissions officers have begun gaming the system. Many enroll in AP courses but never sit for the accompanying AP exam. And high schools—bowing to student pressure for more AP courses—are lowering expectations so that more students can have the coveted letters on their transcripts (see here for more on AP's expansion). Consequently, the AP ship is overcrowded, and listing. But the College Board, which owns and administers the AP program, isn't standing on shore and watching it founder. To counter these abuses, the College Board has decided to start auditing classes. That means teachers and administrators will have to submit materials, including syllabi, for review. Although some have complained about the added work, Gadfly is pleased to see accountability in the AP program, which had previously suffered from lack of oversight. Now, when admissions officers at the nation's best colleges see AP on a prospective student's transcript, they can be more confident that the standards of AP are actually operative in that classroom.
"New rules aim to ensure AP courses make the grade," by Georgina Gustin, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 18, 2005