For AP students, a new classroom is online — from the Wall Street Journal by Sue Shellenbarger


When budget cuts wiped out honors French classes at her Uxbridge, Mass., high school, 18-year-old Katie Larrivee turned to the Internet.

Advanced-placement classes have been booming amid efforts by high-school students and parents to trim college tuition costs and gain an edge in the college-admissions race. A record 1.99 million high-school students are expected to take AP exams next month, up 159% from 2000, says Trevor Packer, vice president, advanced placement, for the College Board, New York, the nonprofit that oversees AP courses and testing. About 90% of U.S. colleges and universities award college credit to high-school students who pass the program’s rigorous subject-matter tests.

“They get as much school work done in 3½ hours as it takes eight to do” in a traditional school day, Mr. Kirkpatrick says. Kayla Kirkpatrick says she likes moving through the material at her own pace, in contrast with a traditional classroom where “sometimes I’m really bored, and other times it is moving way too fast for me.”

One potential drawback for socially connected teens: taking an advanced placement course online seems to require advanced placement time-management skills. Being online with access to Facebook or Twitter, can be “a bit of a distraction,” Kayla Kirkpatrick says.