Advanced Placement Program Background Information1
Q: What is Advanced Placement?
A: The Advanced Placement Program (AP) offers 35 college-level courses and exams in 19 subject areas for highly motivated students in secondary schools. Its reputation for excellence results from the close cooperation among secondary schools, colleges, and the College Board, a not-for-profit membership association composed of more than 4,700 schools, colleges, universities, and other educational organizations. Through rigorous year long or half-year classes, students gain college level skills and, in many cases, earn college credit while still in high school. More than 2,900 universities and colleges worldwide grant credit, advanced placement, or both to students who have performed satisfactorily on exams. Approximately 13,000 high schools throughout the world participate in the AP program; in May 2000, they administer more than 1.3 million AP Exams. To find out more, go to www.collegeboard.com Q: How is an AP course developed?
A: Each course is developed by a committee composed of college faculty and AP teachers. Members of these Development Committees are appointed by the College Board and serve for overlapping terms of up to four years. An AP course may be equivalent to a full-year college course, i.e., Calculus, Biology; or a half-year course, i.e., Macroeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Psychology.
Q: How are AP courses taught?
A: Many schools are able to set up special college-level courses, but in some schools AP study may consist of tutorial work associated with a regular course, or an individually tailored program of independent study. AP classes require extra time on the part of a high school teacher for preparation, personal consultation with students, and the grading of a much larger number of assignments than would normally be given to students in a regular class. Many Development Committees recommend that the AP teachers have recent college-level content-specific courses as background preparation and that schools augment the resource materials available to teachers and students in classrooms and libraries. In addition, colleges and the College Board through its Pre-AP program provide professional development for teachers through content-specific strategies to build a rigorous curriculum via one-day workshops, two-day conferences, or five-day summer institutes.
Q: What is the development and approval process before a new AP exam is offered for the first time?
A: The approval and development process takes several years. Respected college and high school faculty must craft detailed descriptions of course topics, determine percentage goals of those topics on the exam, prepare a summary outline and teaching materials for the course, compile and class test many multiple choice and free response exam questions, and form teams of dedicated faculty ready to serve on the Development Committee, as exam graders, professional development trainers, etc. The College Board membership must also vote on whether to offer the new course and exam.
Q: How is the AP exam administered?
A: The AP exam is administered at participating schools and multi-school centers worldwide. Schools register to participate by completing the AP Participation Form and agreeing to its conditions. The exam is administered annually in May and in June the free response sections of the exam are scored by college and secondary school teachers at a central location under the direction of a Chief Faculty Consultant for each field. AP exams are generally a little over two hours long and contain both multiple choice questions (5 answer choices) and free response questions (generally one long and two short questions that are either essays or problem-solving).
Q: How do colleges determine credit for AP grades?
A: Advanced placement and/or credit are awarded by the college or university, NOT the College Board or the AP Program. Colleges need to know that the AP grades they receive for their incoming students represent a level of achievement equivalent to that of students who take the same course in the colleges’ own classrooms. The equivalency is assured through several Advanced Placement Program processes:
College faculty serve on the committees that develop the course descriptions and examinations in each AP subject.
College faculty are responsible for standard setting and are involved in the evaluation of student responses.
AP courses and exams are updated regularly, based on both the results of curriculum surveys at up to 200 colleges and universities and the interaction of committee members with professional organizations in their discipline.
College comparability studies are undertaken in which performance of college students on AP Exams is compared with that of AP students to confirm that the AP grade scale of 1-5 properly aligned with current college standards.
College Board commission studies to validate AP Exam grades by comparing the achievement of AP versus non-AP students in higher –level college courses. The results of these studies are on the College Board website.
Q: What are the AP grades and what do they mean?
A: The results of the computer-scored multiple-choice questions are combined with the faculty consultants’ scoring of the essay and problem-solving questions to determine the AP exam’s raw score. These raw scores are then converted to the AP’s 5-point scale:
1 No Recommendation Q: Are there guidelines on granting advanced placement or credit for AP grades?
A: Yes, your local College Board Regional Office or the “College and University Guide to Advanced Placement Program” provide useful guidelines for determining advance placement (students are placed in next higher course to satisfy course credit degree requirements) or credit (students meet course degree requirements thru the AP exam score) policies appropriate for your school.
Q: Why explore the possibility of an AP accounting course and exam?
A: Several reasons have prompted the exploration of if an AP course and exam will be beneficial for students interested in college level accounting:
An accounting AP course and exam will offer a more relevant course experience for high academic performing students who are considering accounting and business careers than the vocationally-oriented accounting/bookkeeping courses currently being offered in high schools.
Prospective accounting majors can be identified earlier and their career decision will be based on a more realistic view of the accounting profession and its necessary skill set.
A challenging and rigorous AP course will change the perception of accounting and accounting related careers among students, teachers, guidance counselors and parents.
Allows college faculty to work with high school teachers to develop a course that better prepares students for a college accounting curriculum.
Q: Who are the stakeholders in developing an AP accounting course and exam?
National Business Education Association (www.nbea.org)
National organization of secondary/post-secondary business education teachers
American Accounting Association (www.aaahq.org)
International organization of college and university accounting educators
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (www.aicpa.org)
National organization of CPAs
National and regional accrediting agencies and bodies, such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (www.aacsb.edu)
Schools of business and accounting programs strive to achieve accreditation status
State Boards of Accountancy and NASBA (www.nasba.org)
Grant the CPA license
Based on The College Board AP Advanced Placement Program Course Description May 2002-May 2003.