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Does your kid's high school require AP exams?

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Replies to: Does your kid's high school require AP exams?

  • sahmkcsahmkc Registered User Posts: 595 Member
    AP courses are only as good as the teachers who teach them. Additionally those who have successful pass rates for the AP tests are teaching to the test. It is just not the same as a college level class taught by a Ph. D. , however I realize not all students will be going to a college where introductory level classes are taught by Ph.D.'s. My DS had more than 30 hours of AP/Dual Credit (without taking several exams his senior year), the colleges we looked would not accept more than 30 hours of credit from AP/Dual Credit maybe that is not the case at some colleges.

    @skieurope I did not know that you had to list AP/Dual Credit classes in addition to the college courses if your college would not accept them. This actually makes me so happy my DD did not take AP sciences as her college does not accept AP for their intro Chem or Bio. I guess it was a good thing the teachers who teach those AP classes had a really bad rep and she opted not to waste her time with those classes.
  • gwnorthgwnorth Registered User Posts: 328 Member
    DS19 is in the first cohort of the AP program at his high school, but there is no requirement to take the AP exam. AP is not actually recognized as part of our official high school curriculum (and neither is IB) so he will get credit for the equivalent "honours" level course and is required to write the final "honours" level exam. There is no bump to the final mark for taking the AP course or for writing the AP exam. Since the content of AP courses is not recognized as part of the official high school curriculum the material can have no impact on the students' high school marks. They can only be assessed on the material covered in the official curriculum. The AP exam is strictly for university credit and it's up to the student to decide whether or not they want to write it. His high school transcript sent to the universities he has applied to does not designate AP courses. They use the "honours" level course code. If students wish to be considered for transfer credit they need to have the College Board submit their AP transcript directly to the universities in question.

    He will most likely write exams for 2 of the 3 AP courses he is taking this year even though he won't get/take university credit for them. It will be a good experience for him to see what a university exam is potentially like. I've also read a study that shows there is a marked difference in first year university performance between students who write the AP exam and those that don't. I'm not sure if the reason is that those who opt to write the exam are stronger students in that subject or whether the act of the studying for the exam helps consolidate the material better. In any case he wants to write them so I'm willing to pay to let him do so.
  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 Registered User Posts: 5,503 Senior Member
    Additionally those who have successful pass rates for the AP tests are teaching to the test.

    I disagree with this generalization. My daughter had some amazing AP teachers that went well above and beyond what was in the AP curriculum, and their students still rocked the test.
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 31,929 Senior Member
    edited February 12
    Our AP Euro class was taught by a Phd and included lots of stuff that was not on the test. AP Latin teacher was all but dissertation. One of the AP Bio teachers had a Phd as well. You have to realize also that the classes are intro level classes for a middling level university.
  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 Registered User Posts: 5,503 Senior Member
    My daughter had a number of teachers with PhDs at her high school as well.
  • sahmkcsahmkc Registered User Posts: 595 Member
    Additionally those who have successful pass rates for the AP tests are teaching to the test.

    @momofsenior1 I disagree with this generalization. My daughter had some amazing AP teachers that went well above and beyond what was in the AP curriculum, and their students still rocked the test.

    And this the problem with AP & Dual Credit! We have zero Ph.D.'s teaching AP/Dual Credit courses all of our Ph.D.'s are administrators. My son is a poli-sci major and described his AP Gov class as soul crushing because the teacher was tenured and did not care at all! She gave out worksheets every day like they were in elementary school.

    Contrast my sons AP experience with my DD's Anatomy class (not Dual Credit or AP), she drew a complete skeleton with muscles and bones labeled, learned every body system and it's function, dissected a cat and went to a cadaver lab. Instead of AP Bio she opted for this class and also a Healthcare Internship where she shadowed healthcare practitioners from many fields, wrote a personal statement (required for medical school applications), and became CPR and AED certified. I think these classes were much better use of her time than the AP Bio classes offered by our school and she would have had to take Intro to Bio at her selected college anyway.

    If you have quality Ph.D. instructors teaching AP classes that's great, but not all schools provide that level of quality for their AP & Dual credit classes.
  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 Registered User Posts: 5,503 Senior Member
    The inequities between schools, states, and even within schools by instructors vary greatly. Families need to make the best choices with what they have to work with. The AP chem teacher at my daughter's HS was awful. They ended up demoting her but the year she taught, many students opted for DE classes instead.

    That's why generalizations are tough!
  • chercheurchercheur Registered User Posts: 1,251 Senior Member
    Having a PhD after your name doesn't automatically make you a great teacher. My son's high school AP Calc teacher was fantastic, and he thought she was a better teacher than his college calc professor.

    Our public school does not require the AP exam, and the exam has no bearing on the class grade. I disagree with a policy that requires the exam; I wonder if such a policy might actually discourage students from taking an AP class if they're worried about the exam (either passing or the cost).

    As a parent of engineering kids, I am grateful for the high school AP classes and exams. Using AP credit strategically allowed my kids to graduate in 4 years and take fewer credit hours per semester instead of the 17 hours every semester shown on the degree plan.
  • 19parent19parent Registered User Posts: 235 Junior Member
    For DD19 She wouldn't be taking classes with the friends that she studies with or it was the natural next step in the course (like AP Spanish). I think the biggest issue she is looking at is 7 AP tests in two weeks. Thats a lot of pressure /craming right at the end of her senior year. That is why she has asked me if she can sign up for all, ($700!) but only take the ones that will benefit her once she commits to a school. Some people on the list have mentioned that some schools view it as dishonesty, and it wasn't really something we considered as I thought it was independent of the class. We will be careful to look at the school she gets into and make sure we understand how they view AP tests. That is why I continue to read this forum, some great information!
  • tutumom2001tutumom2001 Registered User Posts: 1,149 Senior Member
    AP courses are only as good as the teachers who teach them. Additionally those who have successful pass rates for the AP tests are teaching to the test. It is just not the same as a college level class taught by a Ph. D. , however I realize not all students will be going to a college where introductory level classes are taught by Ph.D.'s.

    About 40% of our high school's graduating class of 650-something were named AP Scholars (or above). About 100% of the kids said that high school was waaaaaaaaaaaay harder than college. I think the teachers are doing something right, regardless of who has PhDs. (All of our teachers do have master degrees.)
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,182 Senior Member
    sahmkc wrote:
    If you have quality Ph.D. instructors teaching AP classes that's great, but not all schools provide that level of quality for their AP & Dual credit classes.

    PhD should not be necessary to teach college frosh level material like what AP courses cover.

    Yes, different colleges' frosh level courses may not be completely standardized so that an AP course exactly covers the material in each one. Yes, the quality of teaching can vary greatly, in both high school and college.

    But the assumption that a student who earned a 5 on calculus BC should retake regular calculus 1 in college, or that a student who earned a 5 on French should take French 1 in college, because high school AP courses are assumed to be automatically inferior in material covered, does not make sense.
  • MWolfMWolf Registered User Posts: 1,011 Senior Member
    @sahmkc A PhD demonstrates that somebody has been trained to do research, not that the person can teach. There are plenty of graduate schools which do not require that PhD students have any training or experience in teaching. Moreover, when PhDs are trained to teach, it is almost only at the college level. I have taught extensively at the college level, but I would not consider myself qualified to teach an AP class. It may be a college-level class, but it requires the ability to teach high school students, in a high school setting.

    Before the proliferation of unemployed PhDs, most teaching colleges, including good LACs, only required a Master's degree to be hired as faculty.

    As for "teaching to the test" - yes, and your point? There is no other "objective" way to compare AP classes between schools than to look at success rates in AP tests. So what would you propose?

    PS. IMSA, one of the best high schools in the country, does not have AP classes at all, which is why it is not ranked by most high school ranking systems.
  • gwnorthgwnorth Registered User Posts: 328 Member
    @ucbalumnus I agree but the general rule of thumb we have been given is if the course is integral to your major you shouldn't accept credit for it and should repeat it in university. YMMV. Kind of a moot point for DS19 because his top 2 program choices won't give him credit for AP courses integral to the major and those are the only AP courses he's taken.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,182 Senior Member
    gwnorth wrote:
    I agree but the general rule of thumb we have been given is if the course is integral to your major you shouldn't accept credit for it and should repeat it in university.

    Don't know whose "general rule of thumb" that is, but it seems odd to suggest that a student who knows the material well from a high school AP course automatically repeat the course upon arriving at the university, even if the university says that s/he can take advanced placement.

    A better recommendation would be, if the student plans to take courses for which the course that can be skipped with AP credit is a prerequisite, that the student try the old final exams of the course that can be skipped to check his/her knowledge. Then the student can be better informed about whether s/he should skip and take advanced placement, skip but review a few things, or retake the course.

    But also, there is a disconnect in that students who are advanced enough in math in high school to complete calculus BC in 11th grade or earlier are commonly advised on these forums to take more advanced math at a local college if they are interested in going further in math. The "always repeat your AP credit" advice never seems to come up in that context (which would mean advising such students to take calculus 1 at the local college after calculus BC in high school).
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 31,929 Senior Member
    My son's college gave credit for a 5 on the AP, but also made you take a placement test before signing up for a math test. There reasoning being if you couldn't remember calculus by the late summer you might be better off retaking it. In any event he didn't repeat math or physics courses and did very well in college. (Dean's List freshman year.)
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