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mirabillis

Who did not like PAH AP Chem, AP Macro and/or AP Eng Lang? (and other PAH Courses)

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These PAH courses are universally well-reviewed, raved about, loved. BUT is there a silent faction out there that took one of their courses and didn't like it? If you don't feel comfortable in the open forum, please PM me as we have our sights on those.

 

I ask b/c we're taking our first PAH course and feel a bit disillusioned. Rave reviews abounded in my WTM research ahead of time for this course - but now that we're in the course, I've found (by PM) a huge amount of people not liking the course. Why are there so few of the negative reviews online? If I'm in a course, sure I might not post publicly about my experience until it's over - as I'd hate for it to affect my student in some way. However, after the fact, I think the Hive deserves to know. I suspect there may be a silent majority out there with strong negative reviews for certain courses/providers, that we'll never know about.

 

And PAH is one I wonder about. I seldom see negative reviews. An odd one here and there. But it's asynchronous, non-live format must accrue less than rave reviews from some... anyone?

 

So specifically AP Chem, AP Macro & AP Eng Lang - are these as universally lauded as it seems? I hope so. But if not, please post here or PM me. Any others?

 

Thanks!

 

*ETA - and other PAH courses you did not like.

 

**ETA - or if you LIKED these courses, but maybe didn't like another, which one, - that glowing review then means so much more, if there are others not so hot. one of these gals below PMed me on ones she DIDN'T LIKE, but then LOVED AP Chem. That kind of feedback means wonders.

Edited by mirabillis
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I'll offer a story. My dd took AP Language as a 10th grader. She was a good writer but was going to need a considerable amount of instruction and guidance in order to do well on that test. 

 

In November she received an email from the instructor asking about her writing background. The class had submitted a first draft of a research paper, and the instructor told my dd that hers was the best in the class. What was her background? 

 

I knew she was a good writer. I had signed her up for the class so she could adjust what she was doing in order to pass the test. She was going to need strategies to quiet the voices in her head that made her second guess herself during the multiply choice sections. Unfortunately, the class didn't help that much. When she would get the "wrong" answer, she would bring the question to me and argue her point. Finally, I grew tired of trying to help her and suggested that she email the teacher. She did, and she convinced the teacher that she was right. She gave her credit. Unfortunately, this wasn't a good thing! NOW she was even more confused. Was there a right answer? You can't argue your point on the actual exam! Were the questions on the actual exam this ambiguous? Or were the prep books just bogus? Rather than bolster her confidence, this process was heading in the wrong direction. I encouraged her to keep emailing her teacher. "What's the point? It takes a ton of time to compose an email that captures my train of thought, and if I compose the email 'correctly', then I might convince her that I'm right which doesn't actually help me!" She was right - clear writing IS clear thinking, and it takes time! And time was something she wouldn't have when she sat for the exam! This process was making things worse - not better! She was headed in the wrong direction!

 

And to be fair: I'm not saying the teacher did anything wrong. Either the teacher couldn't see the problem via email. Or it was just too hard to identify the problem and explain how to overcome it via email. Really - very possible. Even explaining it via this post is taking me way more time than it should. Writing is like that.

 

And the timed essays! Oh my! She wasn't getting the specific help she needed. I had already taught her how to research and polish her argument within an inch of its life. A long, slow boil that takes time. Lots of time. Looking back on it, I had already prepped her to succeed in college. Research papers are not written in an hour. It takes weeks and weeks. And I had taught her how to take a paper that seemed finished and make it much stronger - everything from the position of your points to the grammatical structure and actual length of your sentences (and the number of syllables in your key words? the poetry of it?) as you reach your mini climaxes and then your final point. Float it or deliver a gut punch. Imagine the scene and then try to make it happen with nothing more that dots on a page. Can you do it? 

 

She could write. 

 

Now I just need someone with experience to teach her to trust her gut when answering timed questions about another writer's rhetoric. She wasn't reading a passage, thinking about her own experience, wondering how she has done something (rhetorically) like this in the past - along with asking herself if this author is doing anything here that she could use to hone her own strategies... Is this working? What am I feeling and thinking? Did the author intend for this to happen? Or has he/she missed the mark? If so, how could this be even better? If not, why? How does this inform my toolbox?

 

Can you see the long, slow burn?

 

WRONG SKILL!

 

I needed someone with experience to teach her to hijack her own process so she could answer those damn MC questions quickly! Oh - and she needed to learn to spit out a mini-research paper in 50 minutes. Wham. Wham. Wham. Forget most of what you know. Forget nuance. We are talking surface stuff. Just spit it out speed-round style. 

 

Didn't happen. My dd ended up with an A in the class, but she never took the exam. She was on track to earn a 3. We finished the class, and I enrolled her in an honors college course for the fall. It was the best thing that ever happened to us. She earned all A's. She loved the classes. She loved working with real people; she visited her profs during their office hours, enjoying the face to face discussions about her writing. She ended up being one of the youngest people to work in the college writing center - incidentally, the National College Learning Center Association named the center as the best two-year school tutoring resource in the nation. It all worked out in the end. But the actual class was a bust. The wrong tool for the job. 

 

She tutored in college writing centers for four years. And she worked with all kinds of students - including kids who had earned a 5 on that exam. She learned a lot about herself, writing, and timed tests. In the end, she finally learned that she was a good writer. And in the end, I had taught her to succeed as a writer in college. The sad part was that during that year with that AP class, neither of us knew that. And we needed some assurance. Did she have the right skills to succeed? By May of that year, we both felt like failures.

 

Years later when she applied for 4-year schools, one of her English teachers had this to say in a letter of recommendation, "Her written work was remarkable for an undergraduate: she writes virtually flawless prose and treats literary questions with insight and critical acumen. Her term paper, '...' was of publishable, graduate school quality, earning her an A in the course and a 97% overall average." 

 

So the AP class didn't work out for my dd. It took a ton of time - hijacked the whole damn schedule - and in the end, it didn't advance her skill set; it just made us question everything we had done. And a "3" on that exam would have sent the wrong message to colleges about her ability to write. Nearly everyone she has worked with tells her she is a great writer. I am not exaggerating. It comes up. Folks have actually questioned her college major because it isn't connected to writing. And if that AP test is designed to assess whether or not kids can step into the "They Say, I Say" circle of academic writing, then maybe the problem is the timed nature of the test. Works well as far as the whole $$ thing goes. After all, you can't exactly administer an ideal writing test to thousands of students and then give them all grades of 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 when it comes to writing for less than a hundred bucks. How would you actually measure? Seriously - what would you measure? Compare a line of Euripides with a line of Stephen King. Wait - AP Language - OK, a chapter of Stiglitz to a chapter of Gladwell. Which is "better" and why ... and we are off to the races...

 

Maybe the test just doesn't align well with what kids are actually asked to do in college classes and real life? I don't know! I still don't. I have quit caring.

 

But every kid is unique.

Some folks rave about the class. Best thing ever!

Not for us. The whole thing felt backward. It felt like we were trying to back into something that she wasn't gong to need anyway. A ton of stress. And a TON of time. (Sorry about the expletive earlier - but it was a TON of time that we could have put to more productive use.) And the not knowing was torture. We both needed assurance that we were on the right track, and she needed instruction that would move her forward. We got neither. Is that success or failure? I still don't know. And as I said, I've quit caring. 

 

Peace,

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

 

Note: They Say, I Say is a terrific book that was published too late for me and mine. At least I found it after the fact; however, it does explain what I eventually DID to teach my kids to write. I had to piece it together on my own. Now folks can just use the book - you lucky ducks! 

 

And a P.S. regarding assurance. I'm an adult. I don't really need assurance. However, my kids needed to trust me. And it's hard to maintain that when it looks like the things their mother is telling them to do aren't working. So, is this woman nuts? Or is she brilliant? Forget my own insecurity! We are talking about a time when my kids were being launched into the real world, and they honestly didn't know if their mother had prepared them for it. I actually signed up for and paid for something that made our lives worse. Maybe I am nuts. 

 

:-)  

Edited by Janice in NJ
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Note: They Say, I Say is a terrific book that was published too late for me and mine. At least I found it after the fact; however, it does explain what I eventually DID to teach my kids to write. I had to piece it together on my own. Now folks can just use the book - you lucky ducks! 

 

Just wanted to chime in and say that the Rhetoric class at The Well Trained Mind uses this book.  I also feel that the WTM Rhetoric sequence will prepare my kids better for college level writing than an AP English Language course.

 

My kids have had some great, and not so great classes with PA Homeschoolers.  I have never posted about the classes my kids have dropped over the years, though. 

 

OP, I will send you a PM.

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OP, I will send you a PM.

 

 

chicken.... 

 

giggle.

 

Not really trying to give you a hard time. Really I'm not. I totally understand. Sometimes thing don't work out, and it's hard to know exactly why things happened. I offered our story because I really do think I know why things didn't work out. At least I wanted to offer my perspective on why I think things didn't work out.

 

And Snowbeltmom - I hope you have a great day! DH and I grew up in the snow belt. Looks like you might be getting a dose of winter by morning. Stay warm.

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My oldest ds took AP English Lang. He liked it ok and he felt liked he learned and improved his writing. I wouldn't say he enjoyed it but it served the purpose of a productive and useful junior year English class.

 

He did well in the class earning an A each semester. He felt he would do well on the exam but he was surprised to get a 2. I am not blaming the class for his test score at all. But for whatever reason he didn't do well (and he had 35s on the English and Reading sections of ACT).

 

So, I do not have a bad review for PAH but I don't think we will do it again. It just wasn't as great for us as we hoped.

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chicken.... 

 

giggle.

 

Not really trying to give you a hard time. Really I'm not. I totally understand. Sometimes thing don't work out, and it's hard to know exactly why things happened. I offered our story because I really do think I know why things didn't work out. At least I wanted to offer my perspective on why I think things didn't work out.

 

And Snowbeltmom - I hope you have a great day! DH and I grew up in the snow belt. Looks like you might be getting a dose of winter by morning. Stay warm.

Yeah, definitely a chicken.  :001_smile:   I just feel bad writing anything negative about an individual instructor.  

 

Fwiw, I agree 100% with your AP English Language experience.  I don't think the AP format with its formulaic essay structure prepares kids for college level writing.  Obviously, this is not a criticism of PA Homeschooler classes, but rather the College Board. (I have no qualms about criticizing them. :001_smile: ) 

 

Winter has already arrived.  I went from doing yard work in shorts and a t-shirt yesterday to pulling out my winter coat when I left the house this morning.  

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I tend to avoid posting more critical replies about online courses since I teach one myself, and I know how crazy difficult it can be sometimes. I especially marvel at how the teachers at schools like Wilson Hill and WTMA teach so many online sections with so many students! Makes my head spin, but I digress...

 

I have posted before that I was disappointed in the lab portion of the PAH AP Chemistry course. The lab kit was quite expensive, and there was no option for us to buy materials "a-la-carte" from it. Then the instructor revised some of the labs during the year my son took the course so that my son did not use many of the items that we had to purchase in that kit! I was very frustrated. The course itself is already extremely expensive (considering there is no live interaction), so the expensive lab kit was a bit over the top. I do hope that the lab kit has been adjusted to match the actual assigned labs now. 

 

Having said that, my son made a 5 on the exam and received 8 credit hours of chemistry (including labs) at his university. So the cost was worth it! :-)

 

There is NO WAY that my younger son would do well with the format of the PAH chemistry course. He is a smart kiddo and naturally gravitates towards science and math, but he does not have the same inner drive and organizational skills that my older son has. That is why I have enrolled my second son in Wilson Hill's math program rather than Derek Owens like my older son took (and I *love love* DO). Asynchronous would not work for younger son. This is something you really need to consider when you are choosing online courses. 

 

My older son also took an AP English Language course from PAH (Kathryn Walker). This course was fantastic...probably the best course my son took in all of high school. She did include some live interaction meetings and some "book club" meetings with students, so there was an added benefit from those. She also had firm deadlines, and she taught outside of the exam format (in other words, she did not teach only to the test). However, the AP exam itself was very, very stressful for my son. He is a strong writer, but he needs time to process his thoughts. In fact, he cannot PHYSICALLY write fast enough to meet the demands of the timed writing on the AP exam. He prints with a computer-esque style that is slow---but very nice to look at! This son made a 4 on that exam--and we were thrilled. :-)

 

I hope that you receive some answers that will help you make the right decision for your family. The style of a course and its teacher can make a world of difference to a student and as a homeschooling mom, I am SO GLAD that I get to search for courses that match my kids...and those might be different for each one of them!

Jetta

 

 

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Thanks for the insight so far.

 

I have edited the title to add all PAH courses, if anyone has anything they didn't like about them. It's good to see other than rave reviews. I don't want to end up in a course again next year and not know what we're getting ourselves into.

 

Mostly I don't like adding the negative, b/c I'm usually still involved with said organization or said instructor - so I feel concerned for retribution. I know, I know, silly. But I don't want to affect my ds's courses. But always happy to share any experiences via PM and once not involved in said organzation/ instructor, I think honest, fair reviews (whether positive/negative) really help us homeschoolers choose the best courses, esp as they are so expensive. It's good to make the most educated choice.

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Thank you for asking the honest, difficult questions! :001_smile:

 

I have been quite hands off with DS's 2 AP classes this semester (Lit and Chem) apart from asking about progress 1-2 times a week. I have not jumped into details of the courses with him because he has been handling DE classes well and I wanted to see if he could also handle these independently. So far, he likes both classes. However, I've noticed a few things that had me wondering...

  • So many extra credit assignments? Is this normal in other AP classes? From other AP class providers?
  • Assumption that material will be very bard hard (lol, I seem to have Shakespeare on my mind). I hope I don't come across as snooty about this but the assumption is stated out right in materials and emails that the week's work will be challenging to very challenging (e.g. some hyperbole about memorizing organic chemistry terms). I don't know what's the right balance of warning vs not warning a student. It just strikes me as a downer to start a week or study guide being told this. Maybe it was intended to be read with humor and DS has just laughed it off. Other kids who might genuinely have issues might not take the language so well. FWIW I also find this very discouraging in other classes DS takes so it might not be just a PAH thing.
  • For AP Lit, DS can choose essay assignments in the form of fiction responses vs. analysis. He LOVES that because he adores creative writing (does not like persuasive writing as much unless he can write in a philosophical manner). But...I wanted him to try the Lit class specifically to hone his analytic/ clear thinking writing abilities! He analyzes very well in discussions. I wanted him to be able to translate that to a paper.
  • For AP Lit, lots of optional reading assignments that gets left undone because DS is so busy. I don't think it's a time management issue. I understand others might be able to fit the reading in at times when DS cannot. I wish there were not so many options though. Would be good to have clear instructions why something is optional so that the student can make better decisions.
  • AP Chem -- echoing Jetta here...the lab kit is really expensive. And it can arrive late so please plan ahead if choosing this class. Allow about 6-8+ weeks for delivery. We have had to buy other items, some are a hassle and some not. E.g. we don't use plastic or styrofoam drinking cups at home or outside the home and it's very silly to buy a pack of 25 or 50 when you won't use the rest (not to mention the environmental impact). We don't use ammonia. We don't drink distilled water. We don't use white, granulated sugar etc. Maybe it's petty to complain but I wouldn't if the lab kit cost below $100-$150. With shipping, this kit was about $280? Maybe a little more. That's in addition to the $700+ class fee. So if DS won't use everything in the kit, I have to wonder what message that sends about wastage. DS doesn't have a younger sibling to hand it off to or friends who will want a partially used kit.
  • I also get the feeling (as pps have mentioned) that it's not so much about learning but about the AP exam. I feel as if the two teachers are trying to strike a good balance between learning and prepping for the test...but it's an expensive way to do so.

 

I know not everyone can or will choose DE over AP. I honestly feel like the DE path has been so much better for DS. Especially in the lit/ history/ language areas. There is no busywork. The pace is so much better for college-style time management training and objectives feel clearer to me. Although there is a final exam, his profs have not made it feel like they were teaching to a test. DE is very cheap for CA students while these AP classes cost about 2-3 times as much (sometimes more). The classroom engagement and ability to mingle with a diverse student body have been good for DS. My suggestion is to not write DE off for some of your classes.

 

ETA: In all fairness, I thought it important to add. Mr. Moskaluk has managed to re-light some of the spark DS used to have for chemistry which is really nice for me to see.

Edited by quark
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I''m on mobile today so I can't reply in depth (hate typing on the phone!) or quote nicely.

 

Mirabilis, I will reply to your pm when I get to the iPad w the documents.

 

Quark, wrt what you write concerning extra credit assignments and APs:

 

D has taken one AP class w an outside provider (Eng Lang w Blue Tent Online). There were no extra credit assignments.

 

I am in a large number of online AP teacher groups because of teaching D. Some schools mandate that extra credit assignments be available in all classes at all levels. Some teachers have convinced the schools that an AP class should be taught just like a university class with a few exams, maybe a paper or two, and a final. Others are stuck with the extra credits, the participation points, the reading guides, the study guides, the multimedia presentations, and so on.

 

I personally don't feel that stuff belongs in a proper AP class.

 

I also don't like online classes that try to replicate the traditional classroom, but that's another discussion lol

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My son is currently taking AP Macroeconomics. In general, I feel like it's an awesome course. However, it is that way because the instructor has gone to great efforts to make it interactive for the students (with each other) as well as laid it out great for self-study. I do not feel like the teacher "teaches" much. He's provided a fabulous framework for self-study, self-grading and learning from simulation computer games. He gives grades and feedback on the essays, but when my son specifically asked what the points where taken off for, or how to make it better, there is not an answer. Some of the teaching points that the teacher has made have been after the students all miss the same thing - he then says you need to do it this way for the AP exam. Well, I feel that he's been teaching the class long enough that you should tell the students this first (before they make the mistakes) rather than after.

This class is a lot of work and probably my son's favorite due to the interaction with the classmates. He's learning tons and it's well worth putting him in the class. My oldest would have never been able to handle the workload of the essays.

 

AP Physics (with Lanctot) feels like guided self-study. He assigns homework and grades, but there is very minimal teaching. He is available to answer questions, but doesn't get asked too many. My son is learning a lot, but he would do better to interact with classmates and a teacher.

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My son is currently taking AP Macroeconomics. 

This class is a lot of work and probably my son's favorite due to the interaction with the classmates. He's learning tons and it's well worth putting him in the class. My oldest would have never been able to handle the workload of the essays.

How time-consuming is it? I understand the simulation games are time-intensive. We were thinking to combine it with AP Chem next year. All this depends on more research to make sure we're not stepping into potholes of PAH classes.  

Edited by mirabillis

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AP Physics (with Lanctot) feels like guided self-study. He assigns homework and grades, but there is very minimal teaching. He is available to answer questions, but doesn't get asked too many. My son is learning a lot, but he would do better to interact with classmates and a teacher.

 

 

Sorry can't multiquote here...

 

This is what I don't understand. If the courses are so often universally lauded, why are so many of them self-study? How is that teaching? Even at college level, you go to a lecture. You get taught. The reading isn't everything. I'm not sure I understand that teaching philosophy seen so often with PAH - and then why the courses are (a) so expensive when it's really just grading that is taking up their time and (b) why they are so well-loved.

 

Are any of the PAH courses less about self-study and have more 'teaching' involved?

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Well we are totally un-thrilled with AP Computer Science.

 

The teacher is always late for class

Several times class has been cancelled with no email or explanation (ok only twice but still)

The class started with one book, then she started with another book.  The book she has does not match her own syllabus.  The teacher sends emails every single week about how the syllabus needs to be edited so the students know what to read and study

This teacher is really not a programming genius.  Honestly, sorry...my husband works at Google and my son is self taught programmer, and so my kid checked with Dad and then humbly corrected her programming on more than one occasion.  However SHE IS SUPER NICE and VERY approachable.  That goes far in my book, for sure.

Recently, she gave the kids a test that had so many errata that the students complained.  The make up test however was, in essence much harder because there were less than half the number of questions.  So now the stakes for the make up test were MUCH higher and the students were required to take it whether they were one of those who had complained/questioned it or not.  

 

The teacher was NOT being unkind, but she just seems to be a little disorganized and didn't have the forethough to consider that having a better, more correct test would only be a proper replacement if there were, for the most part, the same number of questions.

 

We are un-thrilled and worried now about whether he should take AP ENglish Language with PAH next year.  We are considering Potter's School....

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My son took two asynchronous AP courses - AP Chem from PAH and AP Latin from the Virginia Virtual School.  Prior to that and in that same year, he also took several live online classes.  He was quite accustomed to live classes, and he did not transition well to asynchronous at all.  He bombed both exams.  In the same year, he took the AP Lang exam with no class or prep and got a 5.  It was an expensive lesson learned.

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AP Physics (with Lanctot) - he assigns reading and problems; you do them; he grades. I could do it at home, but don't have the time and energy this year.

 

AP macroeconomics - Very well guided self-study. Students watch lectures from a Teaching Company video set and answer the questions with immediate self-grading; Students read the textbook and do a questions set on these. There are occasional you-tube videos to watch and answer questions on. The students do a lot of old AP questions as well as make up questions for each other. The first half the year (Sept - Thanksgiving) there is an essay due every other week with giving responses to student essays the other weeks; After Thanksgiving, it looks like the writing is more AP Free response style questions. All the work is laid out on a schedule and it is easy to work ahead generally. There has been a lot of teacher time put into thinking through how to design this course (for independent learning). He doesn't lecture or give notes, but it's certainly worth paying for.

 

The games of AP Macro can be time intensive, but don't have to be and they count for a minimal amount of the grade. Family members can play in the games. I played in the first game for four weeks. Moves must be done by 9pm EST, but I always turned my moves in the night before - many students wait until the last minute. The second game can be time intensive as you work in groups of three and might spend time co-coordinating. My son didn't have group members that co-ordinated well so he just did his own thing. The third game, you have to make decisions, but they are not dependent on others I see no reason why the moves can't be turned in anytime. I will play in that game after Thanksgiving. There is a fourth game that I can't comment on yet. By having families play as well, it gives us the opportunity to discuss and learn together.

 

AP Statistics and AP Calculus (Guileran) both have daily notes that have a LOT of teaching in them.

 

AP Computer Science has a live teaching component like a lecture from a professor.

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I'd encourage you to ask lots of questions about how the class is organized - videos, lecture notes, self-grading, how much work, how flexible is the schedule. The more you know about any class, the better you can determine if it is appropriate for your student.

 

In my home, the class that one student thrives in would not suit the next child at all.

 

Most of our online classes have been asynchronous.

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AP Statistics and AP Calculus (Guileran) both have daily notes that have a LOT of teaching in them.

 

 

thanks julie - all very helpful! saying it's worth paying for is saying a LOT. it speaks volumes considering your less than glowing advice for others.

 

tell me more about AP statistics. how is that set up - i know it's blue hen from here on these boards. and generally, i've seen glowing reviews too. hence why we're thinking of taking it. so yes lots of teaching? how intense is the workload? we're thinking of pairing this junior year with ap calc ab and ap eng lang. 

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AP Statistics with PA Homeschoolers has a wonderful teacher. She gives daily messages with a LOT of teaching and examples not in the book. She is very good about answering and critiquing student questions and work.

 

The workload is reasonable. She lays out a schedule that has daily reading and homework assignments, but leaves it to you to decide how to really do it. All homework is self-graded as the answers are in the back of the book. She expects it to be turned in but is graded done or not done. There is a test about once every two weeks. She's a tough grader, but tells you in advance exactly what she expects and what you will do wrong and she says that she'll grade it wrong when you do x,y, and z.... and then she does. Over the course of the year you learn a lot of statistics as well as how to answer questions well.

 

She also provides links to you-tube videos on just about every subject for further teaching.

 

She offers a lot of old free response questions as extra credit. I made my son do all of these. You post your answer and she'll critique it for you.

 

While she offers extra credit, it takes a LOT of work to earn a few extra credit points. It is all worthwhile work and the student learns from it all.

 

I have found her to be the best at TEACHING of all the PA homeschool courses we've taken, though it wasn't my son's favorite subject. (He did make a 5 on the AP exam). I will have my second son take the course through her next year.

 

 

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Maybe more of the PAH teachers need to be WTM boardies.... ;) Thanks for the thorough review. In your opinion, would it be too much to take alongside AP Calculus and AP Eng Lang in jr year?

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Maybe more of the PAH teachers need to be WTM boardies.... ;) Thanks for the thorough review. In your opinion, would it be too much to take alongside AP Calculus and AP Eng Lang in jr year?

 

Haven't had anyone take AP English though I understand it's a heavy load. AP calculus was also a heavy load and we found it very inflexible in the schedule.

 

AP Statistics is a lighter course overall and it's very flexible in doing the work. This could be you student's undermining however, if they postpone the work and then try to do it all just before it's due.

 

My second son will do AP Statistics alongside AP Calculus and AP English next year. (AP Calc will be done at home so it will be more flexible). If all depends on the student on whether it is a good choice or not.

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Just a thought on the AP English classes with a heavy work load that focus on test prep and a certain kind of essay with questionable use for college work anyway...

 

Dd who went to ps was adamant that she did not want to take AP Lit, because of the huge workload, test-prep centered, and she generally can't stand Lit Analysis.  And she was already taking 2 other AP classes that year and didn't want to take a third.  She is however a strong English student and a very good writer - she got 35 on the ACT language sections.  She took an Honors English class instead her senior year and really enjoyed it.

 

She ended up taking the CLEP, because her Uni does accept it.  She got the exact same credits as if she'd gotten a 5 on the AP Lit test.  One hour test, Zero prep.  

 

I'm not trying to discourage anyone from taking the AP English courses, but just saying there are other paths up the mountain...

 

 

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AP Chem was a disaster for my oldest daughter. Terrible fit for her. She's more math challenged though. It would have worked well for the next daughter, but she did chemistry in a different format.

 

 

Adding re: Comp Sci, since I see a negative review above:  not sure if my daughter had the same instructor as the one referenced above, but she LOVED PAHS AP Comp Sci. She had zero comp sci experience though, and we are not a family of programmers :-) She did get a "5" on the year end AP exam, so I think the course prepared her well for that anyway, and left her with a lot of enthusiasm for the subject.

Edited by Gr8lander
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One of my dds did try a couple of PAHS classes.  She ended up dropping both mid-year (after any refund possibility :glare: ) and self-studying for one and got a tutor for the other.  The asynchronous format was not for her.  

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I have a kid currently taking AP Psych, she is very happy with the teacher. She does live lecture chats. Dunno how the kid will do on the exam but the workload is reasonable and the teacher is organized and seems to be on top of things. We are pleased so far. 

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We have found that the most challenging course this year and one of the best designed of all we've taken is from

landry. It's too bad they don't design some excellent AP courses!

 

One of his apologia courses is a huge hit as well and so we've learned that there are courses out there that are awesome and teaches a that somehow really find a way to connect with the students. Mrs Fowler is awesome and we found her by searching; I believe it was here.

 

All that to say individual courses should be chosen over the entire academy- so I would start a spinoff asking for Favorite AP online classes and also do a search on that.

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Sorry can't multiquote here...

 

This is what I don't understand. If the courses are so often universally lauded, why are so many of them self-study? How is that teaching? Even at college level, you go to a lecture. You get taught. The reading isn't everything. I'm not sure I understand that teaching philosophy seen so often with PAH - and then why the courses are (a) so expensive when it's really just grading that is taking up their time and (b) why they are so well-loved.

 

Are any of the PAH courses less about self-study and have more 'teaching' involved?

Why are parents willing to fork over $700 for self-guided study with grading?  PAH has created quite the "brand-name" I guess.

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All that to say individual courses should be chosen over the entire academy- so I would start a spinoff asking for Favorite AP online classes and also do a search on that.

 

http://blog.prepscholar.com/online-ap-courses

http://blog.prepscholar.com/best-online-ap-courses-reviewed

 

http://www.collegeboard.com/html/apcourseaudit/online_learning.html

 

http://www.collegedata.com/cs/content/content_getinarticle_tmpl.jhtml?articleId=10029

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I think a lot comes down to knowing how your child learns best, because asynchronous courses can be more difficult to learn from. My son is in AP Calc (Gilleran) right now, and I agree that the daily notes provide a lot of teaching. But it still is self study, so it comes down to read the notes, read the textbook and do the assigned problems. There are videos once or twice a week. My son would learn better in a more interactive class. I usually sit down with him and have him work through the examples in the book on a white board with me so he can talk through the problems because that is how he learns best. He needs that interaction to fully understand the underlying theory and be able to do the homework. If I didn't have a good handle on calculus he would be struggling and spending much more time on the class. As it is it is a hugely time consuming class, but thorough and I feel confident he will do well on the exam by the end.

 

He and I both knew that a dual enrollment class would be a better fit for him, but there was no way to fit one in our schedule. So I don't regret signing him up for the class and think it was worth the money for us, but it I wouldn't rave about it either. It is important to understand going in how a class is run, and how your kids learn to avoid disappointment.

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Why are parents willing to fork over $700 for self-guided study with grading?  PAH has created quite the "brand-name" I guess.

I pay for an AP class when I don't feel that I have the expertise or time to teach the class myself.  I believe that there are some benefits even if the class is asynchronous with no live meetings:

 

My kids are provided with an outline/teacher comments that summarizes the week's/ day lesson.

 

The instructor is available to answer any questions that may arise. 

 

The class is aligned with the AP exam and the kids are provided with many more AP practice like questions than I could provide them with when preparing for the exam.

 

My kids get the opportunity to take classes where I am not the teacher, and I am not the one imposing the deadlines.

 

DE does not fit into our schedule, nor is a college close to us even if it did fit into our schedule.

 

That being said, my kids have also self-studied for some APs.  The self-study classes have been more time efficient for them, but they require more work for me since I am the one who creates the syllabus, chooses the textbooks, and makes sure the topics align with those on the AP exam. 

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I pay for an AP class when I don't feel that I have the expertise or time to teach the class myself.  I believe that there are some benefits even if the class is asynchronous with no live meetings:

 

My kids are provided with an outline/teacher comments that summarizes the week's/ day lesson.

 

The instructor is available to answer any questions that may arise. 

 

The class is aligned with the AP exam and the kids are provided with many more AP practice like questions than I could provide them with when preparing for the exam.

 

My kids get the opportunity to take classes where I am not the teacher, and I am not the one imposing the deadlines.

 

DE does not fit into our schedule, nor is a college close to us even if it did fit into our schedule.

 

That being said, my kids have also self-studied for some APs.  The self-study classes have been more time efficient for them, but they require more work for me since I am the one who creates the syllabus, chooses the textbooks, and makes sure the topics align with those on the AP exam. 

My question was not really why outsource an AP class - which your statements above fully support and I totally agree with

 

My question was about paying the high price for "guided instruction" versus a real online course (asynch or synch).  It seems you can get "guided instruction" such as from UC Scout Premium (maybe others as well ) for considerably less money.  (I have never used any of these.)

http://www.ucscout.org/plans

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My question was not really why outsource an AP class - which your statements above fully support and I totally agree with

 

My question was about paying the high price for "guided instruction" versus a real online course (asynch or synch).  It seems you can get "guided instruction" such as from UC Scout Premium (maybe others as well ) for considerably less money.  (I have never used any of these.)

http://www.ucscout.org/plans

 

For me, it is because I am not familiar with the quality of those other providers.  I am willing to pay more for a provider that I know has a proven track record of preparing his students for the AP exam. 

 

 

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For me, it is because I am not familiar with the quality of those other providers.  I am willing to pay more for a provider that I know has a proven track record of preparing his students for the AP exam. 

Yes it would be nice to see more AP online courses rated such as this one:

http://blog.prepscholar.com/best-online-ap-courses-reviewed

 

   I wonder where the article author found the student feedback for each one.

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Yes it would be nice to see more AP online courses rated such as this one:

http://blog.prepscholar.com/best-online-ap-courses-reviewed

 

   I wonder where the article author found the student feedback for each one.

 

PAH website publishes reviews for all of its classes.  I have made sure to read those reviews before signing my kid up for one of the APs.  However, even after reading the reviews and thinking that a class would be a good fit, over the years, I have still dropped some of the PAH classes.

 

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Haven't had anyone take AP English though I understand it's a heavy load. AP calculus was also a heavy load and we found it very inflexible in the schedule.

 

AP Statistics is a lighter course overall and it's very flexible in doing the work. This could be you student's undermining however, if they postpone the work and then try to do it all just before it's due.

 

My second son will do AP Statistics alongside AP Calculus and AP English next year. (AP Calc will be done at home so it will be more flexible). If all depends on the student on whether it is a good choice or not.

 

AP Calc will be done through WilsonHill, so a little different maybe than how PAH does it - and a format he's used to (live lectures 2x/wk, daily homework, every 2 weeks quiz/test). He's excelling in Alg 2 & Geom in this format, so hoping for more of the same with that...

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One of my dds did try a couple of PAHS classes.  She ended up dropping both mid-year (after any refund possibility :glare: ) and self-studying for one and got a tutor for the other.  The asynchronous format was not for her.  

 

are you willing to share which 2 classes they were?

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Why are parents willing to fork over $700 for self-guided study with grading?  PAH has created quite the "brand-name" I guess.

 

I guess the answer is that many are about so much more than self-guidance. At least that is my hopes. We're in the middle of a totally self-guided one. One we could have done on our own, but I don't have the wherewithall to do that. Maybe in future, but now, not so much. This kid also thrives on outside accountability. "Mom" classes routinely get slouged off - so hard deadlines from someone other me, work well. If all the PAH courses are completely self-study, the maybe they would be panned more. But there's a glimmer of hope that many of them have some form of 'teaching' to help validate the hefty price tag. That and the AP designation for the transcript (which I know you can apply a syllabus for at home) and the solid track record of high AP exam scores. I suppose that's why.

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I guess the answer is that many are about so much more than self-guidance. At least that is my hopes. We're in the middle of a totally self-guided one. One we could have done on our own, but I don't have the wherewithall to do that. Maybe in future, but now, not so much. This kid also thrives on outside accountability. "Mom" classes routinely get slouged off - so hard deadlines from someone other me, work well. If all the PAH courses are completely self-study, the maybe they would be panned more. But there's a glimmer of hope that many of them have some form of 'teaching' to help validate the hefty price tag. That and the AP designation for the transcript (which I know you can apply a syllabus for at home) and the solid track record of high AP exam scores. I suppose that's why.

 

For us at least, AP Eng Lang with Mrs. Inspektor was so much more than self-study and grading. It went to a depth that I could not have replicated. In fact, DD loved it so much that she's a TA this year  :hurray: . Given her career plans, it was well worth the investment.

 

But for a kid who isn't going to really immerse themselves and get into the posts and reading everything, I can certainly see how it wouldn't work. I teach online, both asynchronous and twice-weekly live classes, and I know very well that each format has it's disadvantages. 

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The class is aligned with the AP exam and the kids are provided with many more AP practice like questions than I could provide them with when preparing for the exam.

 

 

I agree (with the exception of DE but that's only because we have lots of DE options and I understand other families don't). The quoted is the main reason for me. DS has not taken a single AP class prior to this senior year experiment and to be honest, I was also afraid of him self studying or me teaching without aligning correctly to the test. As much as we don't want to teach to the test, it felt like a huge gamble to DIY when the end target was to take the AP exams. I was also afraid of news on the grapevine about AP being more difficult than DE (I now feel that in DS's experience, this is not true).

 

We could have still probably put together an AP Lit class (btw, PAH's AP Lit is not fully self study, there are live lectures every other week). But chemistry at a higher level? We don't have the background/ resources to do that.

 

Why PAH specifically? Brand name and reviews from here. Teachers were very upfront about prep; it's just my own values that have taken a bit of a beating. For DS, he loved this lit class's assigned resources and course description best vs others. For chemistry, I wasn't aware of other asynchronous AP classes for chemistry with such amazing reviews.

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My ds really liked PAH's chem class.  Not sure why exactly.  He scored very high on the subject test and made a 5 on the AP.  He detested the cal class.  He dropped it after 3 or 4 weeks and took AoPS cal instead (which he loved.) 

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My question was not really why outsource an AP class - which your statements above fully support and I totally agree with

 

My question was about paying the high price for "guided instruction" versus a real online course (asynch or synch).  It seems you can get "guided instruction" such as from UC Scout Premium (maybe others as well ) for considerably less money.  (I have never used any of these.)

http://www.ucscout.org/plans

 

I agree with Snowmom that PAH AP classes have a proven track record. 

 

Why did we choose them?

  1.  Proven track record.  The kids who do the work do very well on AP exams ... much better "5" rate than our very highly rated local high school. 
  2.  Most classes are so much more "guided instruction."  They are not just a syllabus, book, and a grader.  While the classes are asynchronous, there is thoughtful discussion built into the class (which is why participation grades can be an important part of an asynchronous class.)  There are videos, articles from other sources, a vast supply of AP questions to use for practice and for exams.  Yes, there is a lot of reading, but so much more.  The grading was so much more than a number or letter on a paper, but insightful comments on what made their answers/essays good or bad and how to improve them.  The instructor gave so much more than my kids could have gotten through self-study. 
  3. We had experience with a much more expensive class that WAS literally a syllabus, book, and a grader.  That teacher rarely answered questions and only marked right or wrong ... nothing more than what a scantron could have done.  Huge waste of money.
  4. We had experience with a synchronous AP class that was poorly organized, with no class participation and little in the way of teacher communication.
  5. In many cases DE would have been more expensive.  We saved that for classes that my kids felt needed live instruction (like lab science at a college level and calculus.)  For example.  APUSH was about the same price as a DE American History class at our local college.  However, that class only covered Colonial Times to the Civil War.  In order to cover the same amount (and get the same amount of college credit), my kids would have needed to take another history class, doubling the price. 
  6. Most other online providers at the time had quality issues or content issues (coming from a religious point of view that was markedly different than our own.) 

 

The PAH classes we used worked very well for my older kids.  But, they were not going to work for dd.  She does not do as well in online classes - she is a more social person and works better with people around her.  That is why she is attending our local high school part-time and will likely do most of her classes next year DE (because all of her friends are seniors and they are graduating.) 

Edited by dirty ethel rackham
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Such great responses. 

 

My son is excelling in WTMA & WHA. He loves online classes, but I think from his other asynchronous PAH class, he likes the live lecture component. The peer interaction is not so important. But he's also taking Edhesive's AP Comp Sci with taped video lecctures and liking this a lot too.

 

I think - Why PAH also? There are so many to choose from. And they've been around longer than most, so there's more opportunity for reviews. I feel there are few choices out there for some of the AP courses. And some of those without the proven track record of high AP exam scores. So even feeling a bit burned, I'm still willing to go the course... ask me again how I feel about PAH in another year! I still think we're probably going to give AP Chem, AP Macro, AP Eng Lang, and AP Stats a try... 

 

Those that took AP Chem - how is the 'teaching' done? Except for Gr8lander above, I think it's still seem to be universally lauded. So what's so great about it - how are the kids taught? More than just read the book? And Gr8lander, what about the class made it a disaster for your dd?

 

Thanks everyone for their frank, honest reviews. It's refreshing and really necessary for us as consumers to make the wisest choices for our kids.

 

*ETA - Quark - who does your ds have for AP Eng Lit?

Edited by mirabillis
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Those that took AP Chem - how is the 'teaching' done? Except for Gr8lander above, I think it's still seem to be universally lauded. So what's so great about it - how are the kids taught? More than just read the book? And Gr8lander, what about the class made it a disaster for your dd?

 

Thanks everyone for their frank, honest reviews. It's refreshing and really necessary for us as consumers to make the wisest choices for our kids.

 

*ETA - Quark - who does your ds have for AP Eng Lit?

 

He has Mrs Serbicki for AP Lit. He likes her a lot. Any downside I've mentioned is my opinion not DS's. He likes both the PAH classes very much. He does well with the asynchronous format.

 

For AP Chemistry (DS rattled off the following and I tried to type as quickly as he spoke):

Chapters from textbook assigned weekly for reading. Mr. M offers very detailed outlines (he tells you what you need to know about each chapter -- e.g. summarizes chapters and gives additional information with charts etc.). He assigns videos to watch every week. Homework that helps you learn. Quizzes and tests (not open book). Lots of practice tests (ungraded) to get you familiar with format/ questions. Labs assigned a few at a time and lots of time given to finish them (4+ weeks).

 

DS thinks focus is much more on learning, at least for now...it might be more prep later in the year. Hoping daijobu or someone else will add! HTH!

 

ETA: DS has emailed Mr. M a few times about typos/ questions and has received very prompt feedback so far.

Edited by quark
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Sorry can't multiquote here...

 

This is what I don't understand. If the courses are so often universally lauded, why are so many of them self-study? How is that teaching? Even at college level, you go to a lecture. You get taught. The reading isn't everything. I'm not sure I understand that teaching philosophy seen so often with PAH - and then why the courses are (a) so expensive when it's really just grading that is taking up their time and (b) why they are so well-loved.

 

Are any of the PAH courses less about self-study and have more 'teaching' involved?

 

I think to call it purely self study (which, to be fair, is in fact the way I've described it) is unfair.  For my dd, it felt like Mr. M was personally overseeing her education in chemistry.  She emailed him at all hours of the day and he usually responded immediately, with the two of them going back and forth on the discussion boards, dissecting finer points until she had 110% understanding.  

 

Those students who aren't interacting with the teacher, yes, for them it's self-study, but IME they are not getting the full value of their tuition.  If they don't need an instructor, then yes, this course would be a waste.  

 

I think you can really think of it as a flipped classroom.  Dd reads the text and Mr. M's notes and then arrives prepared at the discussion board with her list of questions.  She had a funny competition going with 1-2 other students to see who would be the first to complete the readings and post their questions.  But she scratched her head because apart from their small group, nobody else posted questions.  We just couldn't get that.  

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Those that took AP Chem - how is the 'teaching' done

 

 

 

Excellent question because I think this is what determines the quality of your experience.  The way teaching gets done is the flipped classroom concept.  Your student reads the text, reads the teacher's notes, watches the assigned videos, does the problem sets.  If anything is not 100% clear and understood by your student, then he/she posts questions to the discussion board.

 

My daughter posted to the discussion board every week, sometimes multiple times in one week.  There was a core of about 2 or 3 students in her class of I don't know how many--60 students?--who posted their questions.  Mr. M would respond immediately.  If he didn't a TA would, then later Mr. M would post to confirm.  Often there was some back and forth emails between them and other students.  Many students never post at all.  Here's why.

 

The trouble is, your student needs to be comfortable admitting to all the other students in the class online that there is something they don't understand.  I became my dd's "stupid question tester."  She would ask me a question, and if I didn't know the answer, she'd post to to the DB.  If you don't post, then you don't hear from Mr. M.  

 

We were impressed not only with Mr. M's enthusiasm for chemistry, but also his competence and precision, and his detailed understanding of how the AP exams work.  We all felt like dd was in good hands, and she felt comfortable posting her questions, because she wants to really understand every little detail, and she wants to do well on the exam.  

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I will add that dd is a TA now in PAH AP chemistry, and she had to set an alert to her phone to notify her when someone posts a question to the discussion board, so she has a chance to actually answer it before Mr. M does.  

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For AP Chemistry (DS rattled off the following and I tried to type as quickly as he spoke):

Chapters from textbook assigned weekly for reading. Mr. M offers very detailed outlines (he tells you what you need to know about each chapter -- e.g. summarizes chapters and gives additional information with charts etc.). He assigns videos to watch every week. Homework that helps you learn. Quizzes and tests (not open book). Lots of practice tests (ungraded) to get you familiar with format/ questions. Labs assigned a few at a time and lots of time given to finish them (4+ weeks).

 

 

This sounds very un-self-study. The idea that there is a detailed outline with chapter summaries and charts so you know what you're needing to learn from the chapter - that's huge. And if the assigned videos help supplement the reading, that's great. All of that sounds very un-self-study. Homework assigned to help you learn sounds great too, as well as the ungraded practice tests and closed book quizzes and tests. Sounds pretty good.

 

When I say self-study, I mean being assigned weekly reading and that's it. Take some quizzes on the material but nothing further - no detailed outline to know what you need to know. 

 

I know there are PAH courses that are not self-study, and I think some of these are examples of them (AP Chem, AP Macro, AP Eng Lang, APUSH) from what I gather. That an effort is made to compensate for the lack of onscreen live/recorded lecture time. 

 

**ETA - btw regarding AP Chem - how is the text? Is it a manageable read - or an unwieldy college level tome?

Edited by mirabillis
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