Should TYWLS offer AP Classes?

Students at TYWLS are always asking me why we don't offer AP classes. I decided to do some research and try to determine how beneficial AP Classes actually are and if we are doing a disservice to our students by not offering them.

Traditionally, high schools provide AP classes to their highest achieving students. Students taking an AP class will learn the material throughout the year and take a nationally given test in May. If the students score well enough on the AP test (usually a 3 or above, the test is out of 5), then colleges will grant them college credit for the course. This seems well and good, but here are some concerns TYWLS teachers have:

  1. How can we ensure that all of our students can and will take AP classes if they are offered? We don't want to leave students out or make any student look less desirable to colleges just because she chose not to take an AP class.
  2. What if a student doesn't get a 3 or above? Doesn't the class then seem like a waste of time? Is there a better way to ensure our students will take a college level course and get college credit for a class?
  3. What is the benefit of AP classes? Would an AP class really help our students be more sucessful in college? or are there other options that would benefit our students more?

I set out to find the answers to these questions the best I could.

What types of TYWLS students actually want to take AP classes?

The answer was overwhelming! Of the 40 high school students I surveyed 97% said that they would like to take an AP class if it was offered.

However, the bigger question I had was what types of students want to take AP classes? Below is a box plot of the average overall grade of all of the students I surveyed.

The typical TYWLS student that I surveyed has an overall grade average of 85. (Since the data is skewed, the median would be the best measure of central tendency.) This does not help me determine weather or not my lower achieving students would also want to take AP classes. Since most of the students I surveyed had an average overall grade between 82 and 89 (or an IQR of 7) they were not our lowest students. Therefore, I'm still unsure if our lowest students would be up for the academic challenge that AP classes entail.

I also wanted to see if there is a relationship between overall grade average and a student's average regents grade.

Based on the charts above I determined that there is a slight positive linear relationship between a students average overall grade and their regents scores. (I know this is a linear relationship because my residual plot was scattered.) This concerns me because it may mean that only the higher achieving students will achieve passing scores on their AP exams.

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