Walt Gardner poses the question in a blog over at Ed Week. With record numbers of high school students taking AP classes and the number of students scoring a 1 out of 5, there are questions about AP and whether it is useful or just too diluted. But we really should not be questioning AP, we need to thoroughly question the instruction that lead up to the AP class and the AP teacher.
Many more students can succeed if they have the educational foundation and a great AP instructor. So first - let's fix the pre-instruction and the instruction so that students have a chance which is exactly what Laying the Foundation, a non-profit group here in Dallas, does for teachers. It helps middle school teachers realize what the end game is and helps AP teachers get their students on track to pass without using the "worst pedagogy in the form of daily lectures" (which still prepares you for colleges since you will still get a lot of that - not defending, just saying).
Mr. Gardner is also concerned with critical thinking skills so he seems to have missed the fact that College Board is revamping the AP test to increase the use of critical thinking skills and decrease some of the memorization starting with biology and history.
Let's not end a program because some of the implementation is rough. He is right that students (including both my daughters) really learn how to study and prepare for college courses by taking AP even if they don't pass. And let's give teachers the skills so that they can help their students succeed and graduate college in 4 years for a change.