AP classes and testing

Jeffrey Spanier, AVID Coordinator; English teacher

Dear Lancer Express Editorial Board:

Thank you for your pointed commentary on AP classes and testing.

After reading your article, it is clear there need to be some changes.

I think the changes, and a few of the logical assumptions that follow, can be summarized as such:

-Make the 36  week high school AP course a 15 week course like a “real college class”.  Students that require more time to master content or skills can suffer the consequences.

-Do not teach the prerequisite reading, writing, computing, analytical and synthesis skills required to master AP curriculum—like a college class, student can just take it with what skills they enter the class with and hope for the best.

-The real purpose of AP classes is to save money.  Not to learn.  The intellectually curious and those willing to put their blood and sweat into a class for the purpose of self-improvement and academic edification should not have such an opportunity at the high school level.

-Final grade should be based on a test score and a paper (but no practice work should be required to prepare for these).

-Practice for the test is unnecessary—especially if it is repeated practice.

-The testing center should be more comfortable and the proctoring less strict—like college where all the seats are cushioned velvet and the professors all cupcakes.

-People get hungry.  They should be fed or allowed to eat even if you are the one that forgot to bring food.

-Nothing learned in AP classes is valuable beyond the test.  The aforementioned reading, writing, computing, analytical and synthesis skills required as well as the time management, collaboration and listening skills developed do not in any way translate into skills needed in college or life.

I think that covers most of the Editorial Board’s position.  However, a few questions are presented by this argument.  Why is success in an AP class such a clear indicator of the future success a student will have in college (something the SAT cannot claim)? Why do the universities value AP course work when several high school students don’t?  Why does College Board audit each class and teacher to insure the curriculum and skills required are being taught?  Why do so many CHS AP teachers receive “thank you” letters from former students that go on to achieve success?

My advice for all students that share such opinions  is to stay out of AP classes.  Leave AP classes to those who have been taught the value of hard work, who take pride in the rigorous climb to the intellectual mountain, and who appreciate the multitude of information, skills and personal growth attained by challenging one’s self.

The AP test system is not perfect.  It does require commitment and diligence.  It’s not meant to reward the lazy, the self-entitled, and those simply motivated by showing off a shiny gpa regardless of the value they place on actually learning, on self-improvement.

The teachers at Carlsbad High School work diligently—sometimes just as hard as their students—to make lessons relevant, important and meaningful.  Yes, we ask a lot of our students.  Why? Because we know they can do it and that in the end, will be better for it.  Not better test takers. Better students.  Better prepared for college and life.

Your resentments and griping is understandable, to a point.  Students who, either ambitiously or foolishly, bit off more than can chew probably finish up the AP testing season exhausted and a grumpy.  But I would rather you just say “thank you”.

Jeffrey Spanier

AVID Coordinator; English teacher

760-331-5134