In fact, taking an AP class does not lead to better grades in college, higher college graduation rates, or any other tangible benefit — unless the student does well enough to pass the AP test, said Trevor Packer, a senior vice president at the College Board.
In the past, the College Board has pointed to studies that found a correlation between taking an AP class, whatever the outcome, and succeeding in college. Yet that research was flawed because it didn’t control for other predictors of college success, such as family income or high-school grades, Packer said. More rigorous studies find benefits only for students who earn at least a 3 on the AP test.
That means, Packer said, that hundreds of thousands of students enrolled in AP may be better served by lower-level classes that focus on building foundational skills. “We have no interest in collecting exam fees ,” he said, “if the kids are not going to benefit.”
Those exam fees, however, continue to roll in. The nonprofit College Board, which also runs the SAT, reported net assets of $609 million at the end of fiscal year 2012, up from $491 million two years earlier.