Friday, January 14, 2011

Big Changes to AP Testing

Change is never easy - especially in education.  As AP class participation has skyrocketed so have questions bout the validity of the exams.  The main complaint is the amount of content that needs to be covered in a little short of a school year.  Teachers end up juggling concepts to hit the ones they believe will get students closer to a 4 or 5 on the AP Exams.

College Board listened and got together groups of college professors and teachers to revamp the AP exams in biology and history.  The challenge will still be there but they are going to try and focus less on memorization and more on critical thinking.

Any time you say that - you immediately spark the direct instruction vs constructivist debate.  And I am one that falls squarely on hating the fluff in education. 

There are two keys that convince me that this is the right track:
  1. They started with college professors - these are supposed to be classes that get you out of taking the college class so if these professors give their stamp of approval then the content is college level
  2. My own daughter (anecdotal evidence alert:  basis of one) did not pass the AP because she is not good at memorizing and I felt that maybe I should have had her take a basic course at the community college - would have been easier and should have had the college credit
So it sounds to me like they are on the right track - not dumbing down the AP - but making it more like a college course and less like a memory contest. Now we just need to train AP teachers before 2012 to make sure they are ready!