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Re: AP classes

And, in one parent's view, the course - whether AP or not - depends on how
well the teacher teaches the material - my daughter found her love for US
History in an AP US History class BECAUSE the teacher changed the way the
material had been traditionally taught, i.e., memorize 90 terms every two
weeks, read the book, be tested on the content, etc. to a class where the
students were totally involved in their learning...there were several ways
to demonstrate their grasp of the content, long-term time lines were created
so that students could see the relationship between events that may have
occurred years apart - and she let the test take care of itself. . and guess
what - my daughter's class did just as well on the AP exam as the other
class that was taught much more traditionally....so again we're back to - at
least in my mind - what is most important - THE TEACHER...

-----Original Message-----
From: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List
[mailto:ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU]On Behalf Of William Cala
Sent: Sunday, February 17, 2002 11:06 AM
Subject: Re: AP classes

Interesting article, however, lots of contradictions. There is too much
content, not enough depth. Sounds good, however, it goes on to say that we
should start these kids earlier in school to prepare for this kind of
instruction. Let's offer these course to poor minorities as well. What the
heck, they should be given more rote memorization opportunities as well.
They should be well-practiced after high school careers of drill and kill.

This issue is a difficult one. Some of the arguments critical to AP are
indeed valid, however, some of the supporters of the argument (often Higher
Ed Administrators) have motives less than pristine. I am sure that being
able to charge the additional tuition (and in some cases additional year of
attendance at college) the bottom line will not suffer.

Having taught AP Spanish (albeit a long time ago) I see many problems with
College Board's management of the testing program, its development of the
tests and their subsequent fairness.

----- Original Message -----
From: Peter Farruggio
To: ARN-L@listsrva.CUA.EDU
Sent: Sunday, February 17, 2002 11:45 AM
Subject: AP classes

Study says advanced math, science classes cover too much material too
GREG TOPPO, AP Education Writer
Friday, February 15, 2002
©2002 Associated Press
(02-15) 09:44 PST WASHINGTON (AP) --
Accelerated high school courses in math and science cover a
"smorgasbord" of material too quickly and superficially, sacrificing
students' in-depth understanding of a few important topics, a new government
study said.
The study, by the National Academies of Science and Engineering, took
two years to look at the College Board's Advanced Placement math and science
courses, which are taken each year by thousands of high school students for
college credit. The study also looked at the International Baccalaureate
courses, offered by a separate organization of the same name.
"The primary aim of programs such as Advanced Placement and
International Baccalaureate should be to help students achieve deep
understanding of the content and unifying ideas of a science or math
discipline," said Jerry P. Gollub, a physics professor at Haverford College
and a leader of the committee that looked at the courses.
He said the Advanced Placement chemistry course, for instance, should
afford students not just an understanding of atoms, but should give them a
chance to "experiment, critically analyze information, argue about ideas,
and solve problems," he said. "Simply exposing students to advanced material
or duplicating college courses is not by itself a satisfactory goal."
The committee also said schools should make such courses available to
more minority students and those in rural and inner-city schools.
The study, released Thursday, looked at Advanced Placement in chemistry,
biology, physics, and mathematics. It said the courses' tendency to cover an
"excessive" number of topics sacrifices hands-on, practical lessons. While
covering so much material quickly may be appropriate for college-level work,
the study said, younger high school students often learn best through
problem solving and discussion, not rote memorization of facts.
The study also said the New York-based College Board and the
International Baccalaureate Organization, located in Geneva, Switzerland,
should give more training to Advanced Placement teachers, many of whom
aren't qualified to teach the advanced courses.
It also said schools should begin preparing students for such courses as
early as junior high school, since many students come to them without having
taken required preparatory courses.
College Board spokeswoman Chiara Coletti, who had seen a summary of the
study, said the organization agrees with most of its recommendations, but
said the College Board has already begun changing courses, such as calculus,
to make them more in-depth.
"We're in agreement in much that they say, and have shared some of those
opinions long before they were doing the study," she said.
She said much of the problem stems from colleges' requirements for
incoming freshmen.
"First-year courses in those subjects tend to be rather broad, and we do
have an obligation to reflect what is taught in college," she said.
Coletti added, "We believe that discussion can go on, and much
discussion does go on all the time about the AP courses and the tests. We
would not have a problem with adding depth over breadth."
Coletti also said the College Board has long tried to increase the
number of low-income students taking the courses, more than tripling such
figures since 1992.
The advanced courses, first developed in 1955, are the most prevalent
high school courses for accelerated students. There are 11 courses in math
and science alone.
Originally offered only to a few students, the courses are now offered
in about 62 percent of high schools.


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