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Old 12-05-2011, 11:43 AM
Location: Foot of the Rockies
85,030 posts, read 98,929,643 times
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Since the topic of this thread is supposed to be freshmen taking AP classes, I feel my comments here are relevant. I agree with those who say that most HS freshmen, some of whom are not even 14 years old when the school year starts, are not ready for college work. Any AP course geared to freshmen is quite unlikely to be true college level.

However, this begs the question of whether a student should take such a course. S/he can take it as a type of honors course.

As to the specific course we are supposedly discussing, AP Human Geography, my DD took this course as a senior. It seemed to me to be quite the "fluff" course. She did not take the test b/ the college she knew she was attending at that point, which has a big geography dept., did not accept it. Her teacher was a bit peeved, as I'm pretty sure DD would have scored at least a 4 on the test and made the school and the teacher look good.

Old 12-06-2011, 10:24 AM
Location: St Louis, MO
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I actually tracked down the scores from last year on free response:
Q1: Mean 1.89 SD 1.96 Max 6. So a 0 was in the first standard deviation, which is particularly bad when you consider that you get 1 pt for any on topic response.
Q2: Mean 2.66 SD 2.35 Max 8. At least 0 was not in the first standard deviation, but this was also a two parter. So if you attempted both parts on topic, you received 2 pts. The mean was only 0.66 points above that.
Q3: Mean 2.45 SD 1.68 Max 6. Performance was close to adequate on this one, and there was no automatic points. But, it was also a ridiculously easy free response question.

The multiple choice scores are notoriously bad too. I have never seen actually score distributions released, but generally you only need around a 60% on the multiple choice to get a 5.
Old 12-06-2011, 10:31 AM
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Freshman can easily take and pass AP classes. AP classes are simply reading the book, doing the work, taking the tests and then reviewing for the exam. The only people who find it difficult are those whose skills are below grade level. Also if the student is lazy, ap classes will be difficult.

Now actually taking and passing the AP exam, now that's difficult. Most of these AP exams have a 50% failure rate. Most students fail to prepare appropriately for the exams. Just reading the textbook and doing homework is not sufficient to pass the exam. You have to know how to write a good essay and thinking critically. Not an easy thing to do. Takes lots of practice and time, something which most students do not want to do.
Old 12-06-2011, 10:51 AM
Location: St Louis, MO
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Keep in mind that a large part of that is because "passing" is a curved concept with the AP. A student who reads the book, does the work, takes the practice tests, and reviews for the exam is going to be at least average, which is good enough for a 3. Throw in grade level skills and that work ethic, and they are going to be above average, which lands you a 5 on the common APs. The uncommon APs (like music theory or studio art) are the truly hard exams because the test taking pool is already a small select group. The performance section of AP Music Theory was actually toned down, because such a small group was taking the exam; and the passing mark moved down so that 60% were passing. Only 18,000 took Music Theory as compared to the 406,000 that took AP US History or the 84,000 that took Human Geography. AP Studio Art 3D had only 3400 students nationwide take the exam!

I went to the University of Chicago back before the common core was watered down (end up graduating elsewhere). They felt that every incoming freshman should be above average compared to college bound high schoolers, so they flat out accepted no AP course credit. You could get placement, but no credit. But if you wanted placement, you could just take the placement exam without paying for an AP exam.
Old 12-06-2011, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
If it's typical for 14 to 15 year old college bound students to be able to do college level work, is it really college level work???? I don't think so. If 14 year olds can do the work, it's really high level 9th grade work not college level work. I find that a sad testimony to the quality of education in this country.

So they're almost 15 .. do you really think that makes this more palletable??? What that means is that what is passing for college level work is really work higher performing 14 or 15 year olds can handle. Still very sad.... I think there should be a difference between what a college bound 9th grader can handle and what an actual college student can handle. IMO, there is something really wrong here. College has, obviously, been dummied down to 9th grade and that is sad.

This is just more proof that a college degree is nothing more than a high school diploma in disguise.
I'm with you. In my experience, which obviously doesn't reflect universal experience, the norm of high school student work at a middle-of-the-road school -- heck, even at a (theoretically) higher-performing public school -- is quite low. To wit, one colleague of mine in one of our fine nation's states was essentially prohibited from assigning his or her students college-preparatory work because it would be too hard, grades would go down, students would leave the program, and parents would complain. In short, it was far easier to dumb things down and just make sure the students could do the minimum on the state tests. Anything above that was absolutely NOT wanted; in fact, it was discouraged.
Old 12-06-2011, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by golfgal View Post
Again, it hasn't been dumbed down, the kids are accelerated. They certainly could not do upper level college math (well most of them anyway) at this point but these are 100 level college classes-the AP classes are.
GG, I think both could be true. I strongly believe that for many academically-minded families, acceleration prevails as a strategy -- in many ways as a response to the dumbing-down that occurs in many classes. Again, in my non-universal experience, many classes could absolutely be taken successfully by much younger, academically-focused students. AP Human Geo might be one of them; I confess I know just about nothing regarding that exam.
Old 12-06-2011, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by golfgal View Post
So you have dumbed down your AP Chemistry classes for your high school kids??
I can't speak for IT, but in some cases, GG, it's becoming mandatory to do so. Speaking very generally from personal and secondhand experience, dumbing down has become more and more of a necessity for at least some teachers in some schools.

As schools seek to increase AP enrollment, more and more students are urged to take AP courses even though they lack fundamental knowledge, forcing a general dumbing-down of the class as a whole. The driven, academically-focused kids still make the 5s, as statistics on the AP demonstrate, but the pass rates of the exams (as one might expect) have gone way down as a whole. The College Board does not care because it makes money; the school does not care because it gets to babble meaningless statistics such as, "57% of our students take one or more AP exams," knowing most parents won't say, "That's fine -- but how many get a score of 3 or better?" It's the teachers who ultimately bear the burden here: if they're demanding, they face a tsunami of criticism from parents, students, and administration; if they are not, their pass rates go down even more and they're regarded as ineffective. Unfortunately, this has led to many qualified, talented teachers leaving AP teaching -- they feel as if they've been put into an untenable position.
Old 12-06-2011, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
They also know what is taught at the CC's and how the classes compare. My own transfer was seamless.

Do you not get that there is money on the line for the 4 year universities? It's to their advantage to steer you the direction that gets them the most $$. It's more likely a CC course will transfer for credit. AP courses they can waive for credit and still collect the same amount of money. When there's money involved, don't believe everything you're told.

With the high percentage of students you have taking AP classes, I doubt they're more rigorous than CC classes. They're, likely, akin to taking the actual high school course 50 years ago.
I think that CC is really an issue of "Your mileage may vary." With the various community colleges with which I've had experience in 3 states, the quality has varied wildly from teacher to teacher, but I will say this: even the most rigorous CC course was nothing compared to the easiest, introductory-level coursework at my state university...to say nothing of the coursework at the private university at which I studied for graduate work. Again, my experience is not universal, but there was a stark, obvious, profound difference in quality among the classes offered at the three institutions, enough so where I think a parent would be very well-advised to speak to a college admissions counselor in person before (possibly) wasting a student's valuable time and money.
Old 12-06-2011, 04:30 PM
Location: Lake Arlington Heights, IL
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DD is in AP Human Geo. I think it is an excellent "AP class with training wheels". She is getting B's and I am gently asking her what she thinks she needs to do to get A's without minimizing the B or putting added pressure on her.
Old 12-06-2011, 05:37 PM
Location: Whoville....
25,393 posts, read 29,747,102 times
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Originally Posted by golfgal View Post
So you have dumbed down your AP Chemistry classes for your high school kids??
Nope. What passes for AP chemistry today, simply, isn't much higher than what I had for chemistry in high school. I was shocked to see that many of my favorite labs, from high school, are now AP labs. I'd love to do them but I can't justify the expense now that they're "AP" labs and my class isn't AP.

AP chemistry in my school is done without labs. Students watch videos of labs (talk about dummying down).
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