Advanced Placement ® - A brief History

The Advanced Placement (AP) program began with a pilot program in 1952. Originally designed for elite east-coast college-prep schools (Andover, Exeter, and Lawrenceville), to prepare their students for prestigious colleges such as Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, the College Board soon launched the program with 11 subjects that prepared students for college. By 1955-56, the AP program was well on its way. Through expansion in the 1960, an increasing number of College Board-trained teachers spoke of the impact AP made within their careers.

During the 1970s and 80s, additional schools added AP to their course offerings. The real "boom" in students taking AP courses happened during the 90s. During that time, additional AP courses were created and offered, new programs such as AP Vertical Teams began, and the College Board honed their mission to include excellence and equity to all students.

Today, the College Board oversees the development of additional AP courses through AP Advisory committees, and conducts research pertaining to minority involvement and success. Currently there are 34 courses available for schools to offer, in six-different subject areas.

For more detail, please visit the College Board and read:

AP Exams

As the culminating experience for an Advanced Placement course, students are able to take an exam during the first two weeks in May.  After the students take their exams in May, the exams are sent in two different directions. The multiple-choice section of the exam is sent to Princeton, NJ to be scored by Educational Testing Service (ETS). The written essay portion of the exam is sent to various locations across the US (depending on the exam).

The essay portion is read by trained Advanced Placement teachers (both high school teachers and college professors). Depending on the subject, as many as 1,000 readers participate in scoring the AP exams for each subject (AP US History and AP English Literature & AP Language are the largest exams). The readers spend 8-hours a day reading exams, all of which are standardized and controlled for individual discrepancies in scoring. Although this might seem extreme to most people, readers find that by taking part in this needed function actually strengthens their abilities as AP teachers. 

The scores from each section of the exam are combined, and statistical analysis determines the cut-off points for the scores. Scores are awarded ranging from a 5- highly qualified (equivalent to an "A" in a college course) to a 1 - no recommendation (equivalent to an "E" in a college course).

Why take an AP course?

Key to student academic success is your involvement in your child’s academic career. Perhaps the best way to help in the cognitive development of your student(s) is to encourage them to participate in the most rigorous courses available to them. As schools encourage students to enroll in challenging courses, Advanced Placement courses provide the best possible preparation for college placement and advanced study beyond high school. All students intending to continue their academic career can benefit from Advanced Placement courses.

Various studies have observed the benefits of AP classes, both while the student is in high school and during college. As reported by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), colleges and universities consistently rank grades in college prep courses as the criteria for admissions to their institutions (information found on page 22 of survey report).

Each AP course is designed to be comparable to a first-year college course, and in most cases, will substitute for that course. Students are encouraged to check with the college or university they plan to attend to determine credit, placement, or other considerations the university will give for a particular score on an AP exam.

Advanced Placement at CASA

CASA offers 16 Advanced Placement courses in six-different subject areas.  CASA encourages every student to enroll into an Advanced Placement course. As we believe all students will benefit from such an experience, we also realize the vast differences among student ability. CASA does not believe in gate-keeping (stopping students from taking a course because their score would lower the over-all number of successful students). Rather, we encourage all students to take an AP course, and also to take the AP exam for that course.

Standards are high in CASA Advanced Placement courses, and expectations for success are maintained throughout the year. When a student takes the AP exam, many items have to "come together" in order for the student to score well on that exam. Having the confidence is but one aspect. High-stakes tests usually brings the stress out of the student, and placing everything into one exam can cause even the best student to falter. We ask that parents work with the students to maintain a proper prospective on life; help reduce their stress by encouraging the students to do well, and by assisting the teacher through discussing of the subject at home with the student. Success happens when teachers, students, and parents work together.