AP Revisited

I’ve had the chance to look closer at AP history offerings lately and do additional research into the detractors. From my admittedly limited observations of my daughter’s AP World History course, here’s what I see:

  • huge scope of content
  • no depth
  • no primary sources
  • assessment is by far memorization through multiple choice exams
  • no creativity in assessment
  • no formative assessment
  • teaching to a specific test
  • no relation to current events
  • little evidence of teaching historical skills – it’s just memorization of content

I’m sure some AP courses involve primary source, creativity, and in-depth anaysis of historical evidence, but not this one.

But hopefully, there will be changes. A recent article in Education Week, College Board Improves AP Exams & Supports For Deeper Learning & College Readiness, by Tom Vander Ark, discusses proposed changes for AP exams:

“The redesigned AP exams are increasing their focus on essays and open-ended problems, and reducing the number of multiple-choice questions; the remaining multiple-choice questions are shifting to measure not just content knowledge, but content knowledge and the skill to use that knowledge in meaningful ways essential to college and career success in that discipline,” said Trevor Packer, Head of AP at College Board. “There’s not a single exam question now that measures memorization only. They each evaluate skills and the application of knowledge.”

I’m encouraged by this quote:

“I think skills are vastly more crucial to success than content knowledge,” said a faculty member from a AP U.S. History study.

Sounds like the College Board is considering a capstone project, a year-long project of service learning, creativity and depth. Excellent!!  Sorry it’ll be too late for my daughter.