Jeff Larsen writes:

Okay, I’ll bite. There are problems with some AP courses, but I think you’re painting with a broad brush here. My story is obviously anecdotal, but here at Lowell HS (just outside Grand Rapids, MI), our AP teachers aren’t focused on the test, nor do they teach “a mile wide and an inch deep” (that will happen, however, with Common Core). We take all students who want to attempt the course; those who succeed (in class and on the exam) find themselves better prepared for their first year of college than the average student. I’d also suggest that a 2002 study of AP course rigor isn’t relevant; there have been many changes to the courses over the past 11 years.

It doesn’t matter if my AP Lit students are Harvard-bound (where AP credits mean zilch) or heading to Grand Rapids Community College, they come back to tell me and my colleagues that what we put them through was more difficult than their first year of college.

We’re proud of our US News & World Report ranking because we aren’t one of those selective schools at the top, but we are keeping up with the more affluent districts in our region. It’s easy to take shots at the College Board, Jay Matthews, and the charter schools at the top. But it’s not fair to lump all AP teachers, courses, and (especially) students, into that group.

Full disclosure: I’ve taught AP Lit for 14 years, AP Language for 5, and have worked as an AP Lit Exam Reader for 7. While I take a week’s pay from CB, I know that the time I spend working with other teachers and professors is the most valuable professional development I’ve had in almost 20 years of teaching.