Why Teens Take AP Classes

The number of high school students who are taking Advance Placement classes is skyrocketing. In 2002, 1 million students took at least one AP exam, but five years later the teens signing up for a AP test jumped more than 50% to 1.6 million students.

Is all this popularity a good thing? Probably not.

Curious about this trend, the Thomas Fordham Institute commissioned a study that asked teachers across the country why students are taking AP classes.

Here are a couple of ugly realities that the researchers uncovered about AP classes:

Only 32% of teachers believe that tees are participating in AP classes because they want to be challenged at a higher academic level.

About 90% of teachers think that students are taking these harder classes primarily to make their college applications look better.

Should all these teenagers be taking AP courses? Probably not.

About 56% of teachers said they believed that “too many students overestimate their abilities and are in over their heads.” Just as disturbing, 60% of teachers think that parents are pushing kids into AP classes when they don’t belong in them.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and the college blogger for CBSMoneyWatch.com.

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