Journaltalk - Advanced Placement Economics: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Advanced Placement Economics: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Abstract

In 2010 the College Board and Educational Testing Service (ETS®) administered 134,747 Advanced Placement (AP®) microeconomics and macroeconomics exams to high school students. The exams are designed to represent the introductory-level micro and macro courses taught in college, and students can earn college credit if they “pass” the exams. The present article discusses the beneficial effects of AP economics and suggests modifications that would improve the program as a tool of economic education. The modifications include more emphasis on economic reasoning relative to mechanics; the integration of property rights, entrepreneurship, and dynamic competition into the content; and correction of the imbalanced presentation of topics involving markets and government. With regard to the last point, “market failure” is a component of the courses, but there is no parallel treatment of “government failure.” AP economics courses attract many of our brightest high school students, and it is important that they be equipped with the tools of economic reasoning and an accurate view of the current state of scholarship in the field.

Author
  • Tawni H. Ferrarini
  • James D. Gwartney
  • John S. Morton
Keywords Advanced Placement (AP), Advanced Placement Macroeconomics, Advanced Placement Microeconomics, economic reasoning, Keynesian, mechanistic approach
Volume Number 8
Issue Number 1
Pages 57-75
File URL Advanced Placement Economics: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
File Format PDF
Access no registration, free access
Publication year 2011

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Publisher INST SPONTANEOUS ORDER ECONOMICS
Grouping social sciences
Categories economic, economics

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4 comments

  1. I totally concur with this article. I had three kids of mine go through AP economics, both micro and macro. I was appalled – the material was 30 years behind the times, both micro and macro. AP economics is confirming the worst stereotypes of what economics is about. And it was boring, boring, boring, even to me.

    posted 25 Jan 2011 by Paul Johnson

  2. Oh yes, I should add that I teach principles of economics. And it has changed a lot… Just one example – the theory of growth is very different and more prominent in principles courses compared to 30 years ago. And I expect that most principles instructors have changed their treatment of this topic.

    posted 25 Jan 2011 by Paul Johnson

  3. Excellent article. I concur with Paul Johnson. Very sad that AP Economics includes so little real economics and so much of the bogus mechanistic/mathematical type.

    posted 26 Jan 2011 by Patrick T. Peterson

  4. This is a great article as the others have said. This study needs far greater exposure to provide greater diversity in economic thinking. There is far more to economics than Keynesianism and the mechanics. Thank you.

    posted 16 Mar 2011 by David B

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