Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ho Hum, AP

I used to really stress about the Advanced Placement exam.  I used to be so concerned about passing percentages to the point to where I was considering feeding sheep Ambien at night as some kind of sacrifice to the nocturnal gods.  But no more.  Nope, I’m excited for students to take the AP Exam but also happy that the cram is finished.  I’m not stressed about scores.

That might not be publically popular because of the idiotic notions that AP tests equal excellent schools.  Take the U.S. News and World Report High School Rankings, which do a fantastic job ranking charter schools and affluent high schools near the top of the list.  They have phenomenal passing rates for AP to go along with phenomenal participation rates for AP.  Of course the student populations at those schools are also phenomenal (at least academically) because most of those students aren’t couch surfing, suffering from a lack of motivation, or even a middle-of-the-road-I-just-want-to-graduate kind of kid.  Those lists are bogus and only show that lots of money, small class sizes, choosing your students, and motivated parents, works.  Real surprise there.

And let’s not forget that I don’t require my students to take the Advanced Placement exam so that pretty much makes me a bad person.  In fact some of my best academic students that took my AP classes aren’t taking AP exams at all.  Colleges have accepted them and the tests at some of them are basically meaningless.  Where’s the incentive to stress if there is no benefit to an $87 expense?  I totally get that and I don’t hassle them about it. 

This doesn’t mean I don’t care about student results on the test.  I want them to pass because passing equals less ringing of college registers and less future debt.  I want them to take the test because I want to look at the data to see any correlations in scores on certain student’s tests and on certain sections of the test.  I admit that there are two groups I’m not really concerned about.  First are the students that are going to just jack this test out of the park.  They are so prepared that the APUSH test should fear the students, not the other way around.  The second group are the students that really have no business taking the test.  These are the students that have missed so much class and have put so little effort into the work that they have a better chance of hitting a home run off of Clayton Kershaw than passing this exam.  I can pretty much point out both groups before the test is taken.  The group I’m watching are the middle-grounders.  Those that have really worked at the the class, improved their analytical skills, and have developed competent writing.  These students are my case study.  Those are the students that become my measuring stick.

So I offer up plenty of support, lots of advice (sleep, sleep), and I’m excited that students can get out of a financial hole early on with the passage of these exams.    

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