The Baltimore Sun has published today on its website a letter to the editor from the head of Friends School of Baltimore, Matthew Micciche. In it he responds to The Sun’s story on the value of AP courses in high school. Micciche gives the reasons Friends does not offer AP courses and why the private Quaker school has no intention of doing so. – The Eds.
I read The Sun’s investigative report on Advanced Placement courses (“Some parents, educators are rethinking role of AP,” Jan. 18) with great interest, in part because our school, on principle, has never offered AP classes. Our rationale is simple: We believe the AP program and its heavy weighting toward the memorization and recitation of facts inhibits the development of critical thinking skills and deeper conceptual understanding.
It is heartening to see that the College Board has begun to acknowledge and address this significant pedagogical shortcoming. In a 2011 New York Times article, Trevor Packer, College Board senior vice president, said “the new AP needs to be anchored in a curriculum that focuses on what students need to be able to do with their knowledge.” We concur wholeheartedly with this assessment and have acted on this conviction by continually adapting and evolving our curriculum to develop students who are highly engaged creators of their own understanding, rather than passive recipients of a static body of knowledge.
As reporter Liz Bowie noted in the article, over the past decade a growing number of highly regarded public and private high schools have made the decision to drop AP from their curriculum for precisely these reasons. (Anecdotally, I can tell you that when colleagues at other schools learn that we have never offered AP, they often express the wish that this were the case at their own schools.)