Altered Vision

Submitted By:
Aidan Byrne, Xavier High School, New York, NY

Shortchanged: How Advanced Placement Cheats Students by Annie Abrams
Johns Hopkins University Press, May 25, 2023

In Short Changed: How Advanced Placement Cheats Students, Annie Abrams traces the roots of the College Board back to the early 1950s – when committees of educators sought to explore ways in which high schools and universities could collaborate in offering liberal arts education to American students as both a means to social mobility and a national safeguard against authoritarianism – and then examines the many ways its vision has been altered in the name of profit and uniformity. Abrams explores financial data and class curricula to expose the dogmatic, business side of College Board offerings. The directives of what to teach, their stultifying effects on creative thinking, and the amount of time that must be dedicated to test preparation throughout the year for formulaic exams, have all combined to reshape AP classes into the very authoritarian and anti-democratic experiences from which those institutions hoped to protect their students. In her call to action, Abrams brings attention to some of the schools that have the privilege of no longer offering AP classes – many of the schools whose teachers actually contributed to the original vision of AP – and asks readers to reflect on a more effective way to inspire our students in a post-College Board world.

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