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Advanced Placement (AP) gripes and questions


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This post is intended not only for homeschoolers but for those who send their students to public or private high schools.

 

For those not in the AP loop, let me preface my comments with some background information. A few years ago, the College Board (which owns the AP franchise) decided that in order to be called "AP", a course syllabus had to be submitted and approved by the College Board. Some homeschoolers submit syllabi for approval of their homegrown AP courses, although it seems more popular to list "Biology" or "Human Geography" on a student's transcript and then report the AP score.

 

Before the audit, my local public high school offered a full slate of AP courses. The local newspaper performed an investigation five years ago or so and determined that while many students were enrolled in "AP courses", a minority actually took the exam. Of those who did take the test, not a single student had earned a 3 or above on a science AP. (Our local school system calls a 3 or higher a "passing grade"--even though it seems many colleges do not give credit for a score of 3 on most of the exams.)

 

Yesterday I tutored a young lady who is enrolled in AP Calculus AB at the local high school. Her AP Calc teacher tells the students to "do this" without explanation, admitting that she (the teacher) does not know why one should solve the problem this way or any other way--that is the way the solution's manual says to solve it. She has not opened a calculus book in fifteen years so how should she know. As a former college math teacher, I am cringing. For some students, Calculus is only a hoop, a box that is checked off on the list of requirements. For students in science, economics, etc., Calculus is foundational. This teacher is doing no service to future engineers, physicists, etc.

 

But at least the teacher is attempting to follow the syllabus. My tutee told me that she had taken three AP courses the previous year as a junior: English, US History, and Chemistry. I was impressed, particularly knowing that the latter is tough. "No one takes the exam." "What?" "The teacher said the AP syllabus was too hard, so he taught an easier course. No one took the exam."

 

Now wasn't the purpose of the College Board audit to eliminate these situations where schools boast that they offer x number of AP courses (even though only a handful of students take the exam)?

 

I wanted to mention this here to homeschoolers who feel that perhaps they just cannot compete with their local high school because of the enticing slate of APs offered there. With the audit as public information, I have been following what APs are theoretically offered at my local high school. Every year they add more AP courses--or so I thought. I see that one of the courses approved by the College Board is AP Chemistry which is offered in name only. Makes me wonder about the other courses on the list...

 

Clearly homeschooled students have demonstrated repeatedly that they can self study for AP exams. Some are 'easier' than others where 'ease' may be a relative term. I have no problem with self study. But I do think it is disingenuous for a school (brick and mortar or virtual) to label a course AP, submit a syllabus to the College Board for approval, then ignore the syllabus but keep the label.

 

Am I just turning into an old grump? Should this even matter to me since I am not confident that the breadth and lack of depth that seems to come with AP is all that great of a choice?

 

Jane (charter member of the Blue Crab Society--we complain as we eat our she-crab soup. Anyone want to join me?)

Edited by jane.kulesza
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I agree. It seems like the quality of AP instruction varies tremendously between, and even within, schools. The good news for home schoolers is that the curtain has been pulled back for us to see what AP is really all about -- and that our kids are capable of performing well on AP tests and earning college credit, if they wish.

 

My three most recent AP anecdotes:

- an AP Chemistry teacher who, himself, earned a 1 on the test (not that you have to do well on an AP test to teach the class, but come on!).

- last year my son took the AP Comparative Government test at a (very expensive) private school. The kids there had not even gotten to two of the countries that were supposed to be covered in the course.

- my niece's AP U.S. History teacher taught the material in reverse chronological order. The teacher said that, otherwise, the class would never get through the 20th century.

 

For anybody who wants to see what the AP tests look like, here is a link to one subject, with multiple published tests and scoring rubrics. There is a drop down menu to go to the others.

 

~Brigid:001_smile:

http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/chemistry/samp.html?chem

Edited by Brigid in NC
misspelling
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Seems like false advertising to me. My dh is a contractor. If he tells you he is going to remodel your bathroom with top of the line Kohler fixtures, custom tile, and a jacuzzi tub and then he remodels with fixtures from Walmart and a cheap plastic tub you'd complain, right? He could say well it still gets the job done, but it's not what you were promised.

 

The more I hang on the high school board the more convicted I am in my desire to homeschool high school.

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My dd took the AP bio test last yr at a local, well regarded private school. One kids slept through the whole test. Only a handful of students (maybe 4 or 5) out of about 40 were even still writing after the 1st 5 minutes of the essay portion. The rest gave up.

 

It gave me an eye opener to at least the student motivation at this highly regarded school.

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My kid's school is offering some AP tests even though they do not have an AP class - "Honors" Civics, for example (and ds says it is not even Honors level) is supposed to be getting the kids ready of the AP test - the instructor never got her syllabus approved by College Board hence can not call the class AP. Which it isn't, anyway, according to my disappointed senior. He is also taking AP Calc., Bio and Eng. Lit this year - and reports that they ARE AP level classes. He has already taken all three AP history classes and exams (all 4s...plus a 3 in Eng/ lang last year) so he knows an AP level class when he is in it. Which Civics ain't, fer sure.

It can all boil down to does the teacher know what they are doing!!!!

 

Note - a couple of his AP His. classes, the teacher did not get the paperwork in on time so technically they were not "official" AP classes - but the result, test-wise , was the same as if they were...because the teacher was thorough in prepping the kids for the test.

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my favorite local AP horror story -- so-called AP physics B is offered by our school system. Our school system brags about its many AP classes. Some (like AP human geography) have huge enrollments -- nearly 50% of the sophomore class takes HG.

 

You would expect great scores since the school brags about it so much, right? Well, ONE physics B test-taker got a 2; the rest gots 1's!!!!! We know the girl who got the 2, and she was furious since she had done really really well in the physics class!

 

Despite the fact that I sometimes think homeschooling high school is an exercise in in finding a brick wall and banging my head against it, I am so glad we do it!

 

We have been able to put together a curriculum that develops MY kids' strengths and weaknesses; we have been able to find teachers who really do "know their stuff"; we have been able to hold our kids to a high standard where knowledge (and hopefully a bit of wisdom) and not just attendance is the goal.

 

Let us persevere!

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I'm pretty sure that our school system isn't doing this; I'm always surprised at how much my youngest's friends know and what they are covering. I feel obliged to do better that our school for my youngest because I think if he had gone to the school, he might have been the one of our three who might have actually learned the material there. (Note all the mights...) I'm not sure why, but your post still makes me feel better. And I think I'll feel even better when we get farther into high school and my son begins doing things that make it obvious that he is learning things he couldn't at the public school, even if he isn't learning lots of other things. I know there are too many things to learn them all. (And too many in my sentence GRIN.) Part of the reason we homeschool is so our sons can not learn some of those things, and instead learn ones that we or they consider more important. Or learn the things but in a different, this-particular-child-oriented way. APs are sort of the opposite of that. I worry that we are doing the right thing. I keep remembering that I have always thought that the Europeans I met were much better educated than we and wished I could give that to my children. The AP system is much more like the European one. But then I remember that they may be better educated, but they aren't necessarily better people, and my husband says the European engineers they get don't seem to have the initiative of the American ones, and that quote by Beatrix Potter. (Any Europeans reading this - my husband sees a very, very small sample of European engineers, not nearly enough on which to judge the educational system. And it probably isn't the educational system at all - it is more likely the governmental safety net. I'm dealing with nebulous fears and background thoughts, here, not concrete information. On the concrete end, I'm using French history, French reading, and math from Singapore GRIN.) Besides, sigh, I think we're lazy. Or academic education isn't as high on our priority list as some other things, like family togetherness. Or something... This probably doesn't make much sense. It just seems like I've been worrying at this since last fall, when I began thinking about high school for this particular child. As I said, I think I'll begin to feel better when he begins to do things more radically different than our public school. LOL and I just realized, as my son came to me with his history book, that he is doing them differently already, drastically differently. His history book as a 6th grade French child's history book. And then another piece of me says, "But he's having to work at this and it is only 6th grade level!! I've obviously failed him drastically if this is a challenge (it turns out that it isn't the French that is the challenge here - in his French reading book, yes, but not in the history). Forget about APs. He can't even manage 6th grade. And then another part of me says, wait - it is mostly a learning-from-textbooks problem, not a history challenge. I go around and around and around. In a way, this has nothing to do with Jane's post, and in a way it has everything to do with it. I hope people talk a LOT about the APs and help me sort this all out. Maybe it is just a grass is greener problem.

-Nan

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Thank you for posting this. I have been very interested in AP in the last several weeks as I think about what high school will look like for us.

 

So can I ask you knowledgeable ladies a couple questions? I'm not sure if I can even write them clearly enough for you to understand what I am asking. First, do you feel it is wise for kids to take as many AP exams as possible during their high school years (while being homeschooled). I'm basing this on a child who is wanting a college degree.

 

If a student is going to take an AP exam, how do you go about ensuring that student will get actual college credits for passing that exam? This is what is confusing to me.

 

Also, from what I am reading here, it sounds like we can go ahead and plan our own courses --- including what they will need for the exam -- and NOT have anything submitted to the College Board for approval. My kids can then have their high school credit AND take the AP exams for college credit?

 

Do you feel it is worth it for myself, as a homeschool mom, to purchase a few of the AP exam study books (for instance, Govt, Bio, etc) and look through them as I plan out my classical courses for high school?

 

Blessings,

Angie

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Our school doesn't do AP, but they do offer a fair amount of dual-enrollment courses, which are accredited through St. Louis University. The quality of the courses depends upon the teachers and the curriculum which is used.

 

For example, my oldest is taking a human anatomy & physiology course which is considered accelerated and is therefore weighted, but it is not dual-enrollment or accredited through SLU. It should be, though, because the teacher's expectations are extremely high, and my dd has more homework in that class alone (typically an average of 2-3 hours per night, just in that class) than she has in any other class.

 

She's also taking a dual-enrollment ACC Psychology course, which is not terribly difficult, but not altogether easy.

 

The other dual-enrollment course she's taking is called ACC English, which is the typical course that college-bound high school seniors take. It is taught by the principal. There really is not that much reading in the course, and the readings that are done are all compiled in this book called "Introduction to Literature" or "Studies in Literature"---something like that. The teacher/principal doesn't like the book or the translations of some of the key works. The class has read Beowulf, but the translation wasn't Seamus Heaney. They're now reading The Canterbury Tales, and again, the translation is not good, according to the teacher. My oldest, who is rather nit-picky about literature since she has self-educated herself quite a bit on the subject, finds herself frequently disagreeing with the teacher. She believes that the teacher's information is "inaccurate". For instance, during the unit on Beowulf, the teacher kept saying that the Anglo-Saxons were Viking tribes which invaded England.

 

I've had to do some teacher observations over the past two weeks for my education course, and I visited dd's advanced English classroom. The teacher is very interesting and engaging, but was sometimes "inaccurate", as dd described. She was introducing The Canterbury Tales, and kept saying that they were written in Old English. I found myself quietly whispering, "Middle English, Middle English"; I don't know if she heard me, but she did correct herself and state that they had been written in Middle English.

 

Last year both of my girls had the same English teacher. Although I think the teacher was very good, there was really very little reading that they were able to get accomplished. Apparently the teacher had discovered that if he assigned reading outside the class, no one did the reading, so all of the books were read in class. Honestly, we were able to get many more books read when we did our Great Books reading at home.

 

So, not all dual-enrollment courses are cut out of the same cloth, so to speak, probably much like the situation which you've found with AP courses.

Edited by Michelle in MO
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Every competitive college catalog I've looked at says the student should take the most challenging classes available to them. For most kids, this may be AP. No question that school APs (and other classes) can be poorly taught--that's why some of us homeschool:001_smile:

 

If you read the AP email lists, you'll mostly hear complaints by teachers about how their school systems are screwing up their classes. also intimidating for me was how many projects these teachers cook up as "supplementary" learning. Both APs that my dd has taken have required over 1,000 pages of reading, which seems to me already enough.

 

As I've said before, it's a lot of work, but so far hasn't actually been that HARD. (She hasn't taken any science or math APs yet). Hard would be heavy duty reasoning. What she's had is just memorizing A LOT of terms and facts, and being able to string principles together in fairly short essays. In fact, on the AP Human Geo, she's sure she missed one of the three essays entirely, but still scored a 5.

 

I can't speak about courses requiring labs (yet) but for AP Human Geo & AP US Gov, it was sufficient to read the book, watch videos from Annenburg & NROC, respectively, and take a practice test and several practice short essays.

 

If she gets into the college of her dreams, they will give hardly any credit for any AP. Nevertheless, I think it validates my grades very well, and ups the bar for her a bit in amount of reading. Looks good on apps, too. IMHO, well worth doing.

Danielle

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Thank you for posting this. I have been very interested in AP in the last several weeks as I think about what high school will look like for us.

 

So can I ask you knowledgeable ladies a couple questions? I'm not sure if I can even write them clearly enough for you to understand what I am asking. First, do you feel it is wise for kids to take as many AP exams as possible during their high school years (while being homeschooled). I'm basing this on a child who is wanting a college degree.

 

If a student is going to take an AP exam, how do you go about ensuring that student will get actual college credits for passing that exam? This is what is confusing to me.

 

Also, from what I am reading here, it sounds like we can go ahead and plan our own courses --- including what they will need for the exam -- and NOT have anything submitted to the College Board for approval. My kids can then have their high school credit AND take the AP exams for college credit?

 

Do you feel it is worth it for myself, as a homeschool mom, to purchase a few of the AP exam study books (for instance, Govt, Bio, etc) and look through them as I plan out my classical courses for high school?

 

Blessings,

Angie

 

Hi Angie,

 

In my opinion, there is no "one size fits all" educational path. You need to examine your student's goals. If you believe that your student will be attending a competitive college, by all means consider AP. If you believe that you will give your student a leg up in college by checking a couple of introductory courses off the list, consider AP. The latter may also be accomplished via dual enrollment at a community college or university near your home. Some families do not live near CCs or universities--or lack the transportation to them. Online AP may be a better route.

 

My son is taking two AP classes this year: Calculus and Latin. He does Latin through a virtual school, while I am teaching him Calculus. I did not have my syllabus approved by the College Board. I am making arrangements for my son to take the test at an area school. (This is not as simple as it sounds. Not all schools throw open their doors to homeschoolers!)

 

For my son, Calculus is a "check off the box" course (sniff, sniff!) My son does not share my love of math. If he can conquer this and earn college credit, it is one less math class to worry about later. Latin, on the other hand, is far more interesting to him. I would not be surprised if he takes additional Latin classes in college, but then he wants to be a Roman or Medieval archaeologist.

 

Some people can choose between taking American History at their community college or self studying for the APUSH exam. The former might be easier for some students who wish to have regular assessments. AP puts all of the eggs in one basket: one three hour exam determines whether your child will have a sufficient score for college credit. Bear in mind that every college is different in what scores are acceptable for credit. Some competitive colleges will only give credit for three AP classes--but they might not accept any CC credit.

 

It really depends...no one size fits all path!

 

Jane

Edited by Jane in NC
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Her AP Calc teacher tells the students to "do this" without explanation, admitting that she (the teacher) does not know why one should solve the problem this way or any other way--that is the way the solution's manual says to solve it. She has not opened a calculus book in fifteen years so how should she know. As a former college math teacher, I am cringing. For some students, Calculus is only a hoop, a box that is checked off on the list of requirements. For students in science, economics, etc., Calculus is foundational. This teacher is doing no service to future engineers, physicists, etc.

 

 

 

I had a similar AP Calc teacher - though she at least did open the book and attempt the problems herself! Usually, out of a class of about 20, the class time consisted of 2-3 other students, the teacher and myself comparing notes and finally coming to a consensus of why the "right" way to work the problem was indeed the "right" way. I studied and crammed and miraculously made a 3 on that exam, which was just exactly what I wanted since I was a piano performance major and only needed that one credit for math. ;)

 

I made a 5 on the AP English exam, and that class was *very* different. (In fact, the teacher went on to teach English at the Univ. of Ga the next year.) I didn't even have to *study* for that exam - I knew the material backwards and forwards. But, I was the *only* one to earn the 4 or 5 necessary to "pass" AP English, even though that class had the better teacher. (I think there were 4 passing grades on the Calculus exam.)

 

So, I think that as long as the material covered gives the students a chance to at least be exposed to the concepts, that's good. Whether the students rise up to learn the material or not isn't always dependent on the quality of the teacher.

 

AND ~ I did learn something valuable from the Calc class that I didn't gain in AP English. I now have the confidence that with just a book to guide me, I have the reasoning skills necessary to learn on my own. A confidence that buoyed me up when I started my own at-home brokerage (pre-homeschooling days!). And, a confidence that keeps my homeschooling high school in spite of a lack pre-preparedness on my part. But, I readily concede that's not the purpose of AP Classes.

 

ETA: To their credit, the other students in AP English had almost *all* AP classes that year, whereas I focused on just these two. I'm not certain what the other students' scores were on all their other AP exams, but I concluded that in even public school it's better to specialize and focus rather than spread yourself too thin.

Edited by Rhondabee
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If a student is going to take an AP exam, how do you go about ensuring that student will get actual college credits for passing that exam? This is what is confusing to me.

 

 

 

There is nothing you can do to ensure that your child will get college credit. Each college has its own policy. Some will give credit for a score of five only, some for a score of four or five, some for a score of three, four or five. Some will give no credit. In some cases, a given score will not necessarily earn college credit but will allow a student to bypass an entry level class and move on to a more challenging course.

 

Colleges are generally forthcoming as to their policy. If you know a college that your child might apply to, you might browse their website to see what you can learn.

 

Regards,

Kareni

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If the school did not follow an AP approved course , it can't put AP chemistry on the students' transcripts. If it did, it's using the Collegeboard trademark without permission. Someone could certainly inform the Collegeboard of the violation, and I would think parents could and should take it up with the school board.

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Jane,

 

As long as high schools receive money for students in AP classes and admissions offices continue bullhorning that they want transcripts with as many APs as possible up to and including a full schedule the senior year, there will be sad, sad instances like this. I posted last year about the front-page article my neighboring county ran about the huge problem of failing AP test scores and the numbers of students taking AP classes. One alarming statistic noted the numbers of students taking AP classes though they had failing reading scores on the FCAT. :001_huh:

 

Ds1 has taken 4 AP classes. I now have a love-hate relationship with AP. :D

 

Lisa

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I googled a bit and found this article:

http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/schools/2009-05-03/story/students_taking_advanced_placement_have_tripled_in_duval_county_

 

Even for the kids in the public school, it's a tough call. If they don't sign up for "the most rigorous courses offered to them while in high school," colleges think they are looking for the easy way out. EVERY single "How to get into college" book/dvd/pod-cast that I have listened to tells the students that colleges are looking to see if they are taking the most challenging courses offered to them at their school.

 

So what are they to do? NOT take the class even though they won't pass the exam.

 

We have to stop thinking that all kids are advanced in everything.

We can't all be better-than-average drivers now can we? ;)

 

Peace,

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

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A good friend of mine spends a week each summer grading AP Econ exams. It is like summer camp. The graders, mostly college lecturers in the subject, spend a week in the dorms of a midwestern college campus, with 8 hours a day of grading exams. They are expected to plow through a certain number of exams each day.

 

She has come to the conclusion that APs are meaningless, that a CC class with a good instructor is far more educational and valuable. The AP grading is sometimes unfair due to fatigue, and the graders are astounded at the number of blank exams they have, or the silly drivel the some students fill the pages with. Some of the questions of course aren't well worded -- that happens in all large scale tests.

 

The first year she did it, she had fun off hours comparing notes about teaching, this last year she said it was a long and tedious week.

 

By the way, this friend of mine should be an inspiration to us all. After she finished homeschooling her dd, she went back to grad school to get her PhD in Econ and now is a full time lecturer at a local private university, and is getting published, too!

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She has come to the conclusion that APs are meaningless, that a CC class with a good instructor is far more educational and valuable. The AP grading is sometimes unfair due to fatigue, and the graders are astounded at the number of blank exams they have, or the silly drivel the some students fill the pages with. Some of the questions of course aren't well worded -- that happens in all large scale tests.

 

 

 

 

This has been what I've been finding out.

 

The part that bugs me? Is that in NJ schools, the 'best' are the ones with the most AP exams, and that's not saying anything of the kids that actually pass the exams.

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She has come to the conclusion that APs are meaningless

 

We have had fantastic experiences with AP classes and exams.

 

Academically -- My kids learned an INCREDIBLE amount through their many AP courses. The courses were well-taught and were the "next step" for them academically.

 

For college admission -- They scored well on the exams. The scores helped them both to receive many very generous merit scholarships. The scores helped them gain admission to several "elite" colleges. Enough of the scores counted towards classes and credits and requirements that my kids are able to double / triple major.

 

 

Are AP's right for everyone? Absolutely not.

Are AP's the best path? For some, yes. For some, no.

Can AP's be a great way to provide advanced coursework in high school? Yes.

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Are AP's right for everyone? Absolutely not.

Are AP's the best path? For some, yes. For some, no.

Can AP's be a great way to provide advanced coursework in high school? Yes.

 

:iagree: Again, my love-hate relationship with AP. Jane has pointed out the problems associated with cramming APs into the schools on a mass basis. However, I'm so glad we have APs as one more option to home school through high school.

 

Lisa

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If you are filling out your school profile and you didn't offer AP classes (since you didn't submit curriculum) and they didn't take any tests, say you don't provide AP classes. At some schools, your child will only be able to get a max of 4 pts instead of 5 but it is better than the average 3. I have decided that if dd wants to play the game, she can but it is a really tough game and she will probably lose. I read a very informative book from a former Duke admissions officer which I would recommend to anyone who wants a good peak at the game played at the most competitive colleges. It's called Admissions Confidential by Rachel Toors.

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OK. Data. Thanks, Kathy.

 

Now anyone know how I can find out how many 11th graders there were in NJ last year? Or 12th graders? THEN I can start to formulate some real meaningful data. How would one find THAT out? "Did you know that only _____% of NJ high schoolers earned an A or a B on the AP chemistry exam last year." I am SO sick of folks who judge homeschooling by "How are you going to teach high school science well."

 

Or only ____ % of NJ high school students were able to earn a 4 or 5 on the AP English Composition exam.

 

Cause we're working hard to cover high school well without completely burying that spark of curiousity, but folks seem to be under some sort of myth that the high schools are turning out amazingly well educated kids by the droves. I'm not seeing it in those numbers that Kathy linked too. Sure a couple of bright spots. But I would like to see some real-life percentages.

 

So - any thoughts? How would one find out HOW many 12th graders there were in NJ last year? :001_smile:

 

Peace,

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

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OK, If I'm reading this chart right then most test scores mean grade for the nation and my state of Texas was in the 2's and 3's. Of course I am making this conclusion after a very quick glance, but really, that doesn't seem very good. I agree with Janice that it would be more meaningful to have what percentage of students earned a 4 or 5.

 

Barb

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OK here is the national totals from the chart on college board. I am assuming T means total number of kids taking the test and the 1-5 are the scores. So, (my mind is too into trig. to remember if I am doing the math right:001_huh:), that means that about 35% of those who took that test nation wide got a 4 or 5? Now, please be gentle if I am totally off my math (physics and trig have fried my brain!). I am not sure what this data tells me though.

 

Barb

my nice chart I pasted would not work so here is what I was figuring from

scores of 5 and 4 totaled to 994,541 and the total was 2,860,912

Edited by Barb B
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OK. Data. Thanks, Kathy.

 

" I am SO sick of folks who judge homeschooling by "How are you going to teach high school science well."

 

 

Cause we're working hard to cover high school well without completely burying that spark of curiousity, but folks seem to be under some sort of myth that the high schools are turning out amazingly well educated kids by the droves. I'm not seeing it in those numbers that Kathy linked too. Sure a couple of bright spots. But I would like to see some real-life percentages. END QUOTE

 

Janice I soooo agree! Every time the SAT or ACT or AP tests come out there is someone at dh work who shares what her son is scoring. Today I hear from dh "He (coworkers ds) got a 770 in SAT math". It's driving me nuts.I think this kid has taken all AP classes. She thinks that means so much. But I don't buy it. You could drive your kid crazy with all that. No AP test taking here. Just SAT I and the ACT. I am not trying to create someone who will get accepted to MIT. Just a nice well rounded boy! I would love a good % to throw out now and then!

 

Barb

Edited by Barb B
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According to this site, there are 1,377,728 kids on the books as students in NJ.

 

http://www.state.nj.us/education/data/enr/enr09/county2.htm

 

So, if we assume that they are counting kids K-12, then we can roughly divide that number by 13 to get 105,979 kids per grade level in NJ. So if I look at the data for NJ linked on the College Board AP site, it looks like for high school juniors, we had the following percentages of kids who were able to earn a 4 or a 5 on these AP exams:

 

Biology - 1308 kids - 1.23 %

Calculus AB - 985 kids - 0.93%

Calculus BC - 585 Kids - 0.55%

Chemistry - 1201 Kids - 1.13%

English Language & Comp - 3252 kids - 3.07%

English LIterature - 237 kids - 0.23%

European History - 211 Kids - 0.20%

(French Language - my dd's fav - 54 kids - 0.05%)

(French lit only had 2 kids who scored a 4 or 5)

Government & Politics - US - 400 Kids - 0.38%

Latin Literature - 23 Kids - 0.02%

Latin Vergil - 8 Kids - 0.01%

Music Theory - 86 Kids - 0.08%

Physics B - 262 Kids - 0.25%

Physics C - Elect/Mag - 55 Kids - 0.05%

Physics C - Mechanics - 96 Kids - 0.09%

Statistics - 439 Kids - 0.41%

US History - 4149 Kids - 3.91%

World History - 188 Kids - 0.18%

 

For 12th graders:

Biology - 1422 kids - 1.34 %

Calculus AB - 2751 kids - 2.60%

Calculus BC - 1363 Kids - 1.29%

Chemistry - 636 Kids - 0.60%

English Language & Comp - 704 kids - 0.66%

English LIterature - 3,210 kids - 3.03%

European History - 858 Kids - 0.81%

(French Language - my dd's fav - 142 kids - 0.13%)

(French lit only had 10 kids who scored a 4 or 5)

Government & Politics - US - 911 Kids - 0.86%

Latin Literature - 37 Kids - 0.03%

Latin Vergil - 28 Kids - 0.03%

Music Theory - 120 Kids - 0.11%

Physics B - 515 Kids - 0.49%

Physics C - Elect/Mag - 578 Kids - 0.55%

Physics C - Mechanics - 864 Kids - 0.82%

Statistics - 1356 Kids - 1.28%

US History - 373 Kids - 0.35%

World History - 142 Kids - 0.13%

 

So does that look like I figured this right? Any glaring errors in reasoning? I realize that lots of kids double dip, but I think that I calculated the percentages correctly. Those are the percentages based on the total number of 11th graders and then on the total number of 12th graders. I actually have the flu and am in bed, but I'm sick of sitting here.... so I thought I would play with Excel. :001_smile: So forgive me if I really botched this.

 

So is it safe to conclude that while we are hearing about TONS of kids taking TONS of AP classes that we can't easily provide as home schoolers unless we outsource, but here is the data. All of those PS kids who are taking tons of AP's are obviously not all getting 4's and 5's. For example, it looks like about 4% of the kids in NJ earn a 4 or a 5 in APUSH. Less that 2% of the kids earn a 4 or a 5 on the Calculus BC exam. 1.73% of the kids earn a 4 or a 5 in chemistry. Less than 4% for English Composition. And almost 1% for European History.

 

Peace,

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

Edited by Janice in NJ
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Wow, Janice that was impressive data! All I found was this from a college board report on AP scores: "The report documents that, of the estimated 3 million students who graduated from U.S. public schools in 2008, more than 460,000 (15.2 percent) earned an AP Exam score of at least 3 on one or more AP Exams during high school." Well, I wonder if they documented students who got 4 or higher what would happen to the numbers. Seems to me a 3 isn't very valuable, but we don't do AP classes so I wouldn't know.

 

Barb

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But isn't a 3 like earning a C in a college class? Now please understand that NONE of my kids have taken an AP test; so far we've earned nothing but 0's. So I'm NOT knocking a 3!!!! :001_smile:

 

But I'm really trying to decide how I feel about this once and for all. I'm not sure that my oldest will take any AP tests. My younger two? I sill think that they might. But I'm not sure. And I'm becoming less sure all of the time. In theory, the AP tests are designed to allow kids who have a passion for a subject to take that subject, excel, and then prove to college that they have mastered the material at a college level.

 

But I'm not sure that's happening very often. For example, if my son wants to be an engineering major, should he take Calculus, and Chemistry, or Physics or all of them before he gets to university? OK, maybe the math class, but wouldn't it be better for him to take those entry-level science courses there with a qualified teacher and a college lab? (We're looking at smaller schools that don't have mega-classes.) So maybe he should just take some of his liberal arts electives to "get them out of the way." But doesn't the college design those electives in order to generate broad-minded students? Isn't it good for kids to have that exposure? Should we be trying to get them out of the way with a "C?" And what about grade inflation at the college level. They say that grade inflation is everywhere and even college students are miserable if they aren't getting A's and B's. So what is an AP "C?" A real "C" or a new-fangled "C?" And should we stop there? Won't the child be hampered for the rest of their college experience if they haven't mastered this entry-level material?

 

If 15% of kids are able to earn a "C" or better in a college-level class while they are in high school, are they better prepared overall for the experience? Or should we have focus on broadening their high school experience?

 

Loving this thread.....

Lots to think about.....

 

Peace,

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

 

P.S. Oh - in looking at the numbers for Jersey, for the kids who took any AP test about 1/4 of them received a 5; 1/4 received a 4; 1/4 received a 3; and 1/4 received a 1 or a 2. So if the College Board is reporting that 15 million kids received a 3 or higher, it is safe to assume that about 1/3 of those kids received a 3. So 5% of kids graduating from our high schools received at least one B in one college class, and 5% of kids received at least one A in one college class. The following year, their parents and students are going to expect all A's and B's. Are we going to get it? Now THERE's the question, eh?

Edited by Janice in NJ
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Oh , I am so thinking the same things! I think high school and college should be 2 different things. Also, think that a college level course should be different then the same named course you would take in high school. Dh and I don't feel our kids should test out of anything in college.

 

By the way, ds age 16 also is thinking engineering. We want him to do calculus at home to prepare for college but not to test out. Besides, he his standardized tests never really show his true ability anyway!

 

Also, if ds has a class in high school - stats show that he will forget a majority of it by the time he gets to college. So he will need the class again!

 

Barb

 

Ps we are wondering about large or small schools for engineering. It is so tough to sort through!

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Janice, you are a patient woman to work through those numbers. I called our high school and asked to be directed to the specific numbers for the AP tests since the teachers were individually pushing students to take as many AP courses as possible. I was transferred to 3 different people and then told someone would get back to me. That was yesterday. I wanted to know how many students the school had in AP courses, how many students tested and how many scored 3 or higher. I would have thought that if the results are as stellar as they are touted to be, the results would be readily available to stun and amaze inquiring minds.:tongue_smilie: However, I have been know to have wrong thoughts before.

 

Barb, about testing out of college classes, I would think it would depend on the course. For example, are most freshmen still required to take something along the lines of Writing 121? If so, and your dc scores well on AP English Lang. and Comp. (not sure if this is the right title), then I would think you would not want them to spend their time in Writing 121.

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Yes, I suspect that we should probably all start asking these kinds of questions. I remember once when our school board was asking for a 9% increase in the budget, I called to ask how many kids were enrolled K-12 and then divided the INCREASE in the budget by the number of students. I asked the gentleman on the phone to confirm my calculation. "I just want to be sure that this is right. Last year we spent $____ per student to educate our second graders and this year it is going to take $_____ more per kid. Is that right?"

 

He was silent on the other end of the phone. "No one has put it that way. Yes, that does seem like a lot."

 

High time we all started thinking of the "numbers" in terms of what makes sense.

 

Peace,

Janice

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But isn't a 3 like earning a C in a college class? Now please understand that NONE of my kids have taken an AP test; so far we've earned nothing but 0's. So I'm NOT knocking a 3!!!! :001_smile:

 

But I'm really trying to decide how I feel about this once and for all. I'm not sure that my oldest will take any AP tests. My younger two? I sill think that they might. But I'm not sure. And I'm becoming less sure all of the time. In theory, the AP tests are designed to allow kids who have a passion for a subject to take that subject, excel, and then prove to college that they have mastered the material at a college level.

 

But I'm not sure that's happening very often. For example, if my son wants to be an engineering major, should he take Calculus, and Chemistry, or Physics or all of them before he gets to university? OK, maybe the math class, but wouldn't it be better for him to take those entry-level science courses there with a qualified teacher and a college lab? (We're looking at smaller schools that don't have mega-classes.) So maybe he should just take some of his liberal arts electives to "get them out of the way." But doesn't the college design those electives in order to generate broad-minded students? Isn't it good for kids to have that exposure? Should we be trying to get them out of the way with a "C?" And what about grade inflation at the college level. They say that grade inflation is everywhere and even college students are miserable if they aren't getting A's and B's. So what is an AP "C?" A real "C" or a new-fangled "C?" And should we stop there? Won't the child be hampered for the rest of their college experience if they haven't mastered this entry-level material?

 

If 15% of kids are able to earn a "C" or better in a college-level class while they are in high school, are they better prepared overall for the experience? Or should we have focus on broadening their high school experience?

 

Loving this thread.....

Lots to think about.....

 

Peace,

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

 

P.S. Oh - in looking at the numbers for Jersey, for the kids who took any AP test about 1/4 of them received a 5; 1/4 received a 4; 1/4 received a 3; and 1/4 received a 1 or a 2. So if the College Board is reporting that 15 million kids received a 3 or higher, it is safe to assume that about 1/3 of those kids received a 3. So 5% of kids graduating from our high schools received at least one B in one college class, and 5% of kids received at least one A in one college class. The following year, their parents and students are going to expect all A's and B's. Are we going to get it? Now THERE's the question, eh?

 

I took and did well on the chemistry and English AP exams in high school.

 

I was offered the choice of skipping a quarter of freshman chemistry or going into honors freshman chemistry in college--I chose the latter course of action, which got me into a class that it would not have otherwise occurred to me to even attempt, and one that was much more interesting than the standard class. The AP performance also helped with my admission and with a scholarship, so even though it didn't earn me a year of chemistry credit it was helpful in other ways and was exceptionally good preparation for my major (chemical engineering.)

 

The English AP results enabled me to skip the standard, required, introductory English class in college and go straight to really interesting ones. With my major being so busy, if this had not occurred then the introductory classes would likely have been the only ones I would ever have been able to take, which would have been very sad.

 

At a really good university, being able to skip or take harder or more interesting versions of the introductory classes just opens you to better possibilities.

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Here's a couple of interesting links. The first is to a document published by Morristown. It provides some data on AP testing and scores. According to the doc 161 students took 331 exams with 83% earning a score of 3 or better. Their total student body is 1453. Morristown is a decent school, but not a really good school. -sorry, it's a pdf file and the links not working.

 

Here's an article that discuss the AP test pass numbers from Westfield, which is a higher performing district. They also had 56 perfect 800's on the SAT for this past year - pretty impressive.

 

http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20091002/EDUCATION/90930116/-1/register01

 

J

Edited by Stacy in NJ
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AP may not be for everyone, but some kids DO want a challenging course. I'm not convinced CC's are that great (at least around here, they don't attract either the best & brightest teachers or students) and one admissions counselor told me that they prefer AP, in fact, if dd takes Chem at the CC, I'll probably still have her take the AP test.

 

But said admissions counselor also told me that some APs are great (history, lit, French lit which is being eliminated) because they may be the only chance a kid gets to have an old fashioned survey course. In this era of specialization, overviews are not as popular on college campuses, and APs are one way of getting the "big picture", according to him.

 

Re score distributions: if the tests are correctly scaled, the average score SHOULD be a 3. If everyone got 4s and 5s, the test is too easy. Unless it's Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average.:001_smile:

Danielle

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About AP exam scores getting your kids out of college classes --

 

1) Getting out of those pesky 100 level classes can be useful, expecially when your child is not interested in the subject! My ds got a 5 on the AP chemistry and so fulfilled the science requirement. Since he is not going into science and lab classes take a lot of time, this was a huge blessing for him!

 

2) If the college has had bad experiences with kids getting exempted from classes because of AP scores and then doing poorly in higher level classes, your advisor will probably tell you!

 

At my kids' college, if you are planning on taking any 200-level chemistry classes, you HAVE to take the two semesters of general chemistry, no matter what your AP score. A 5 on the AP exam will still count for 6 general credits but will not get you out of general chem. The college does not want kids doing poorly because of AP credits either!

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My dd took 2 AP exams at the local high school, the one that is consistently ranked in the top 100 nationally.

 

She was amazed at how many students came into the testing room, wrote their names on the sheet, and put their heads down on the desk for the next 3-4 hours.

 

I am basing this on old recollections, but I think that some schools pay for the test fees (thus no stumbling block to the students testing) and then require students enrolling to agree to take the test.

 

A long time ago, in my own high school days, there was only one AP offering in my district (US History). Students from several high schools were offered the option of commuting to that highschool for that class. But anyone could take the test.

 

I didn't commute for the class, but tested anyway and did well enough to get credit. My history teacher was quite proud of the record his students had had over the years in passing the AP exam with his non-AP certified instruction (looking back, it was possible that he'd wanted to AP class at his high school so he could teach it and was trying to make a point).

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I took the SAT2 in physics when I'd only had a month or so of the class because I didn't remember any chemistry from the year before (my father's idea). I got a higher score than anyone who had had physics. I remember the head of the science department, who was also my physics teacher, grimacing a bit over it but it wasn't until I was grown up and thinking about SAT2s for my own children that I really saw what a double whammy I'd delivered to the poor man. He himself had quizzed me in chemistry to see if it was really true that I couldn't take that SAT, so he saw how very little I had learned in that top level class even though I got As. That was blow number one. And then I beat all his top students from the previous year with a few weeks of tutoring from my father. Poor man. We made it up to him later, though, because when my husbands company was moving and throwing out all their lab equipment, we brought it to him. He was pretty excited, both to see some past students who were successful in techinical fields, and to see that lab equipment. It is funny what you don't see when you are young.

-Nan

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