Shortchanged: How Advanced Placement Cheats Students (Hardcover)
With its prestigious name, many take it for granted that AP courses are a worthwhile endeavor. But “by its nature, the AP is constructed in a way that precludes actual engagement with difficult material.”* With the recent decision to scrap AP African-American History in Florida, more people than ever are wondering about the power of this private company and its place in public education. Abrams’s thoughtful exploration is a fascinating read for anyone interested in American education and the future of humanities.
*Washington Post review 4/27/23
— From May 2023 Staff Picks
"Shortchanged is a brilliant book."--The Washington Post Author and high school English teacher Annie Abrams reveals how the College Board's emphasis on standardized testing has led the AP program astray.
Every year, millions of students take Advanced Placement (AP) exams hoping to score enough points to earn college credit and save on their tuition bill. But are they getting a real college education? The College Board says that AP classes and exams make the AP program more accessible and represent a step forward for educational justice. But the program's commitment to standardized testing no longer reflects its original promise of delivering meaningful college-level curriculum to high school students.
In Shortchanged, education scholar Annie Abrams uncovers the political and pedagogical traditions that led to the program's development in the 1950s. In revealing the founders' intentions of aligning liberal arts education across high schools and colleges in ways they believed would protect democracy, Abrams questions the collateral damage caused by moving away from this vision. The AP program is the College Board's greatest source of revenue, yet its financial success belies the founding principles it has abandoned.
Instead of arguing for a wholesale restoration of the program, Shortchanged considers the nation's contemporary needs. Abrams advocates for broader access to the liberal arts through robust public funding of secondary and higher education and a dismantling of the standardized testing regime. Shortchanged illuminates a better way to offer a quality liberal arts education to high school students while preparing them for college.
About the Author
Annie Abrams teaches high school English. She holds a doctorate in American literary history from New York University.