US: Advanced Placement Italian Test to End

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Thu Jan 8 14:31:12 UTC 2009

Advanced Placement Italian Test to End

The College Board will drop its Advanced Placement Italian exam at the
end of this academic year, just four years after it began offering it.
Last April, the College Board announced plans to end four Advanced
Placement exams that were not attracting enough students — Italian,
Latin literature, French literature and computer science AB — after
May 2009. But it held out hope of keeping the Italian program alive
for another year if supporters could raise $1.5 million. So the same
supporters who backed the program initially, including the family of
Mario M. Cuomo, the former New York governor, and several
Italian-American groups, created a foundation that raised more than
$650,000 in pledges and commitments.

Those pledges, however, were contingent on a contribution from the
Italian government, which paid $300,000 to help start the A.P.
program. But this time, Italy did not contribute. "A heroic effort was
made by the Italian Language Foundation, led largely by its leaders,
Dr. Margaret Cuomo and Louis Tallarini," Gaston Caperton, president of
the College Board, said in a statement. "However, the valiant effort
to raise the needed funds was confounded by the unforeseen challenge
of the current economic situation." The Advanced Placement program
allows high school students to take college-level courses and, if they
do well on the exams given each year in May, to receive college credit
for their work. Students took more than 2.6 million exams in 37
subjects last year.

The French, Latin and computer exams to be dropped are the second
Advanced Placement programs within their disciplines. The original
exams in those fields will continue. While hundreds of thousands of
high school students take part in the Advanced Placement United States
history and English literature programs, very few participate in the
programs being dropped. Last May, 1,930 took the Italian test, 3,614
took Latin literature, 1,946 took French literature and 4,995 took
computer science AB.

The College Board said in a letter to educators in September that the
costs of maintaining such small programs were simply too high. "The
losses being incurred for the discontinued courses have exceeded a
prudent threshold for a not-for-profit organization," the board said.
Trevor Packer, executive director of the Advanced Placement program,
said there were no plans to eliminate any other A.P. programs, even
though the Chinese and Japanese exams offered for the first time in
2007 also have few takers — 4,311 and 1,538. Those exams, Mr. Packer
said, were devised to be much less costly because they are given via
computer, unlike the paper-and-pencil Italian exam.

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