The AP Program at CDS
The College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Program at CDS
The IB® Diploma Programme and the College Board’s AP® (Advanced Placement) Program are both programs that enable students to take demanding honors classes taught in high school by qualified teachers. Many universities offer credit for such courses. IB, although it has a series of rigorous courses, are not college-level courses or at least they were not developed as such. AP courses were very deliberately developed as college-level courses based on North American higher education models.
The IB was created some decades ago (1968) in Europe as a means of providing a common curriculum and recognized university preparation for high schools in various countries. The idea was to give a student in one country a rigorous program that would be recognized for university admission in another country. The IB Diploma Programme is a two year program featuring various demanding courses that conclude with a standardized examination, a community service component, an extended essay, and a widely acclaimed course called Theory of Knowledge. In recent years the quality and value of the IB Programme have been widely recognized and the IB Organization has aggressively marketed its program to public and private schools around the world.
The College Entrance Examination Board (“College Board”) also created a program of college-level courses with an external exam some years ago (1955), the Advanced Placement Program or AP. Created originally for US high schools, both private and public, and having had a profound impact on US education, it really is a global program. The AP program has been widely recognized and is offered in private international high schools around the world. There are nearly 1,000 schools in 110 countries that administer the program. Most schools that offer AP overseas are private, international and American schools but increasingly local and bilingual schools in various countries have been looking to AP as a way to offer rigorous courses, to validate their students achievements in their already existing rigorous courses and also to help their students gain recognition, advanced placement and/or credit. And the students are finding that they can use their AP achievements at a greater number of universities not just in the US. More than 3600 universities worldwide have AP policies, about 600 of those in about 49 countries outside of the US. About 90% of US institutions and all Canadian universities accept AP for credit. Outside the US AP is also used for admission and in some cases for credit. AP has system-wide recognition in certain countries such as Germany, where AP is seen as an important credential for admission to German universities. AP also enjoys wide recognition in the UK. It is the program of choice for most U.S. independent schools, and is favored by many of the leading overseas American Schools around the world.
For more than 30 years Country Day School has offered AP courses to its high school juniors and seniors. CDS has the most extensive AP Program in Costa Rica and is known throughout Latin America and beyond for its high number of AP courses, consistently high test scores, and selective college admissions. The AP is also offered in Costa Rica at the American International School, Marian Baker School, and the Lincoln School.
So why does CDS offer AP and not the IB? In terms of curriculum and mission Country Day School understands itself to be an American School, not an International School. CDS presents itself as an American School serving the international community. Our curriculum is based on U.S. educational standards of learning and benchmarks, we actively recruit U.S. trained teachers and administrators, and we prepare our graduates primarily, but not exclusively, for entrance to U.S. universities. Our relationship with the College Board and the AP program has served our students well over the years.
For many years we have had a close relationship with the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Overseas Schools. For many years CDS has received the largest number of State Department/US Embassy dependents of any school in Costa Rica. The Office of Overseas Schools, in turn, has had a long and close relationship in support of the College Board and its programs. We see this support as further evidence of the value and quality of the AP program for American Schools overseas.
While our commitment to the AP Program continues, we monitor closely many factors every year which determine the programs we offer. These include our students’ test scores, university acceptances, the availability of qualified teachers to offer advanced courses, our ability to meet the needs of transfer students coming from other overseas schools, and internal quality control within those programs. We will continue to review all available programs that would benefit our students and to make adjustments needed to keep our program competitive and with the highest of standards.
You may be interested in the following resources and tools
AP Policies of US colleges and universities (this provides links to the exact locations on university websites where their AP policies are posted. It's a valuable time saving and exploratory tool for students who are researching colleges and universities and learning where they can use their AP achievements)
AP International Recognition - this the policy search tool for colleges and universities outside the US. It provides a brief explanation of the policy and the contact at the institution for more details
Also, the most recent tool to be added to the CB website is the ledger of approved AP courses worldwide. This just launched on Nov. 1. Schools/teachers that submitted their documentation for AP Course Audit and have been approved until this point are now listed online, including Country Day School.