Chester E. Finn, Jr. and
Martin A. Davis, Jr.
Over the ten years of Fordham's modern existence, we have panned vigorously for gold--curricular gold. This quest has frequently left us disappointed, as our reviews of state standards have consistently shown that expectations for American primary and secondary students are typically weak and watered down. This has been especially the case with high schools. Recently, however, there has been a proliferation in high school students taking courses offering rigorous pre-college curricula. In particular, enrollment in the Advanced Placement (AP) and the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs have skyrocketed. Fordham's latest report, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate: Do They Deserve Gold Star Status?, by Sheila Byrd, examines whether the reputation the programs have for academic excellence is truly deserved. Our expert reviewers looked at the four AP and IB courses most similar to the core content areas in American high schools—English, history, math, and science—and found that, in general, the courses do warrant praise. In a few cases, they deserve gold stars.
See also the "In a Nutshell" brief of the report.