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(Politico)   What? Are you telling me that doing a rapid "learning" of college level material in high school at a sped up pace and having the students forget what they "learned" after six months is a bad thing? Somebody get my fainting couch   (politico.com) divider line 103
    More: Obvious, Advanced Placement, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, high schools, College Board, University of Northern Colorado, teacher training, college credit, net assets  
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4076 clicks; posted to Main » on 21 Aug 2013 at 9:20 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-08-21 10:45:42 AM  

LemSkroob: The modern education system:

"Memorize these 500 facts, because of the 100 questions on the test, 80% of the questions will likely refer to them"


I would say that's far more true of the education system 60-100 years ago.
 
2013-08-21 10:48:17 AM  
I've been going to college for the last 11 years, and still have a couple more to go before finishing my degree.  Call it the pay-as-you-go college education program.  I take one or two classes per year on average.  I had a five-year gap between differential and integral calculus, and had to re-teach myself quite a bit of math (including a lot of algebra and trig) before starting my integral calculus class.

I think having to re-learn what you've forgotten is actually a good thing.  At least for me, the process of re-learning has some very large benefits.

The second time around, the information has stuck with me MUCH better than it did the first time.  Sure, I still *never* use calculus in my day-to-day life, but I still feel like I have a pretty good understanding of what its for, and could quickly teach myself how to do some integrals by hand if the need were to ever arise.  Luckily, the chances of my old TI calculator dying at the same time as all other computers while simultaneously finding myself in a situation where my life depended on being able to calculate the area under a curve is pretty low.
 
2013-08-21 10:48:25 AM  

brimed03: Let's not overlook that students are signing up for more AP courses for two reasons:
They can save thousands in university tuition, up to a full years' worth
Millenials have been pressured to overperform from birth by parents who, at that age, were "busy" tuning in, turning on, and dropping out


But they won't. At least not the vast majority of them.
 
2013-08-21 10:48:43 AM  
AP courses by themselves aren't a bad thing at all - especially if there is no other alternate "honors" level class available in your high school.  At the worst, they allow some segregation of the motivated and intelligent students from the masses so they can actually try to learn something in high school, which can be hard when surrounded by mouth-breathing idiots.

The benefit of taking the tests at the end are widely variable.  The College Board rakes in cash on them, which is great for them, but only benefit the student if (A) they pass; and (B) their college gives them useful credit for the score.  Possible side-benefit of not getting a good score:  Learn that college is hard and you have to study, be serious, or adjust your expectations downward.

For me, I took a bunch of AP, scored high in all of them, but it was of limited benefit.  The math/science tests didn't give me credit toward a math/science major in college so they were useless - they were "empty credits" that show up on the transcript but don't count as a course taken in-major.  The history test was useful because I got to skip a mandatory freshman-year course which would have been a waste of my time.  The other liberal-arts courses (English, French) were partially useful - they gave me in-major general credits that I was able to use to fill up general requirements, allowing me to take out-of-major courses that otherwise would have been impossible to fit in without adding a semester.  It actually allowed me to get more of the education I wanted (and since I was paying the same amount for it regardless, that's not a bad thing) and gave me more flexibility in scheduling.
 
2013-08-21 10:49:18 AM  

I May Be Crazy But...: aseras: I hated proofs and especially integrals and derivatives when you could look at a formula use the substitution/chain rule and know the answer in 1 second. but to do a full proof it took 5 pages of doodling to get the same answer.

I suppose those are, technically, proofs, but they're mostly just algebraic masturbation. (You do it alone, feel dirty afterwards, and nobody wants to see the result). Don't discount all proofs because of them. Real proofs are fun, and really good ones can be delightful.


I'm a fan of one-step graphic proofs, like the famous pythagorean one.

Looking for that, I just spent a distracted time looking through these:

http://mathoverflow.net/questions/8846/proofs-without-words
 
2013-08-21 10:50:07 AM  

I May Be Crazy But...: Real proofs are fun, and really good ones can be delightful.


Proofs are like taking apart an idea, and seeing if you can put it back together without using any duct tape. And leftover parts are OK, good, even, which is really the frustrating thing about when you take apart a bicycle, say, and you're afraid to get back on it because of the pile of nuts and bolts to the side when you're done. So proving ideas is really superior to taking physical things apart, in all ways.
 
2013-08-21 10:55:48 AM  

rumpelstiltskin: I May Be Crazy But...: Real proofs are fun, and really good ones can be delightful.

Proofs are like taking apart an idea, and seeing if you can put it back together without using any duct tape. And leftover parts are OK, good, even, which is really the frustrating thing about when you take apart a bicycle, say, and you're afraid to get back on it because of the pile of nuts and bolts to the side when you're done. So proving ideas is really superior to taking physical things apart, in all ways.


I may have to steal that.
 
2013-08-21 10:58:30 AM  
I've scored AP English Exams before, and I can tell you that a 1 is not the lowest score. There is also zero, which includes essays that are completely off topic. Completely.

There is also "--", a blank, for those people who ran out of time and wrote nothing, or, and this is key, those who submitted a drawing. A drawing. This is in the scoring guide, meaning it happens often enough to enter into a category of its own.

/graded my fair share of giant penis drawings....
//also dinosaurs....
 
2013-08-21 10:59:00 AM  

BitwiseShift: MutantMotherMouse: My only experience with AP classes is actually our daughter's. She took several in high school, did well, and got to do some cool things she wouldn't have done otherwise. The benefit for her came her freshman or sophomore year of state university when she had the same Biology curriculum as her senior year AP high school class. She pulled out her old notes/tests/projects and breezed through.

Our AP science courses were to get us out of the first year of a specific highly selective private science university which had larger classes and heavy loads for freshman to weed out the weak.

In my weird crowd, most people went somewhere else after being offered a full scholarship. It's a more exclusive group than Mensa. Funny though, the place had a lot of name recognition in state and a degree from there would have impressed resume readers.
Back in the day, there were very few babes in institutions like that.


I believe she had to retake the course because she didn't go to the 'main' campus of the state university her first 2 years. She wanted to live at the smaller 'sister' campus in another city (you know, away from mom and dad). It's all a scam. Some of her credits from the sister campus didn't apply when she moved to the main campus her latter years, so she had to retake those or the equivalent. Never having a degree ourselves, Mr. MMM and I had quite an experience in the economics of education. They will get every last dime they possibly can.
 
2013-08-21 11:00:57 AM  

draypresct: I May Be Crazy But...: aseras: I hated proofs and especially integrals and derivatives when you could look at a formula use the substitution/chain rule and know the answer in 1 second. but to do a full proof it took 5 pages of doodling to get the same answer.

I suppose those are, technically, proofs, but they're mostly just algebraic masturbation. (You do it alone, feel dirty afterwards, and nobody wants to see the result). Don't discount all proofs because of them. Real proofs are fun, and really good ones can be delightful.

I'm a fan of one-step graphic proofs, like the famous pythagorean one.

Looking for that, I just spent a distracted time looking through these:

http://mathoverflow.net/questions/8846/proofs-without-words


From there: 31.5=32.5 (The poster calls it "The standard Proof that...", much to my amusement)

farm1.static.flickr.com
 
2013-08-21 11:01:14 AM  
I took some AP classes, and it was nice having the college credits.  And not having to take Calculus again was nice.   Then again I also took the AP History exam without taking the class, and got a 5 on the exam.  People who spent all year writing papers and getting ready were not pleased.

Then again I see no harm in taking the AP class and learning more, even if you do fail the exam.
 
2013-08-21 11:04:28 AM  

pkellmey: I took enough AP classes that I save myself a semester and a half worth of college expenses. I then tested out of enough courses to clear another semester. That came in really handy when I decided to drastically change majors mid-sophomore year. I can't think of a moment where I used anything from my university education for anything other than trivia contests. I just basically paid money for a piece of paper that I used to get a job with.


FYI - you might not be normal.

And in case you haven't figured it out - Almost every college class you ever took is secretly another class. For example - History should really be called something like "Regular construction of communications documents featuring strong argumentation and valid citation sourcing". English Lit is probably something like "Identity reconstruction with minimalist unformatted data" (great for sales) .  Calculus might be called "Analysis of continual varying processes".

It's mostly the underlying skills that you practice in a class that are the reward, not the factoids. Similarly , many classes in high school - especially those with a non-narrative presentation method - teach methods over facts. I put it to you that these methods are what you have used every day.
 
2013-08-21 11:06:46 AM  
I don't think I'd even be allowed to take many of the AP courses I took in high school. My Calc II class was an independent study course with no structure; we ended up designing a catapult to throw pumpkins. I also took the English Literature test without ever taking the class. And yet I ended up with 4s and 5s in all my tests because I was interested in learning the subject matter. You can throw all the money you want at kids and force them into as many advanced classes as you want; if they don't care about the subject, don't expect a great deal of success.
 
2013-08-21 11:07:22 AM  
SaladMonkey:
It might depend on the school district.  I took AP classes in the late 90s and remember them being fairly strenuous (I had good teachers).  What I learned in high school AP Calc placed me out of college Calc 101, and the knowledge from AP Calc took me a third of the way through college Calc II.

/also, your post saddened me.  I was a math minor, but now I can't even remember what the hell an epsilon-delta proof is.


For me, it depended a lot on the class and the teacher.  My AP calculus teacher was fantastic - I passed out of two semesters of college calc and felt better prepared in the third than most of my peers.  We did epsilon-delta proofs (which I couldn't pull off without a refresher these days, but I do recall the general idea).  Of course, when I say the teacher was fantastic, that isn't even really a matter of opinion - the average score of his students on the AP test the previous year was above 4.6.

On the other hand, my AP physics course was mostly useless, to the point that I decided to retake the course in college even though I passed the test because I felt so underprepared in some of the topics.

But TFA is making some decent, if obvious, points.  Taking an AP class that you aren't prepared for, or watering down an AP class because the students aren't prepared, does nothing to help the students - it probably even hurts them.  What the author fails to mention is that the wider availability of AP classes saves more students more money in college, which is desirable for nearly everyone involved.  The simple act of enrolling kids in AP classes shouldn't be a plus for schools, though: that provides exactly the wrong incentives.

Russ1642:
Failing the exam doesn't mean the course was a waste of time.


Not by itself, but the data that TFA mentions says that students who fail AP exams see no benefit to college readiness.
 
2013-08-21 11:08:28 AM  

rumpelstiltskin: I just looked at the college board description of AP Physics. What the fark is that supposed to place you out of? Physics for Poets?


CSB

I tested out of freshman level physics without ever having had a physics course before I took the test. To your point, I wondered how one could possibly fail such a test if they had even gotten through the 3rd grade.

Several of my friends failed.

Apparently several of my friends were dumbasses.
 
2013-08-21 11:10:51 AM  
ajgeek
Thanks, I think.
 
2013-08-21 11:11:29 AM  
I took a few (10) AP classes in high school. I only didn't get credit for two of them (AP US History and AP Chemistry - I got a 3 on both). For the one I had to re-take (chem) my freshman year of college, the AP exam was *much* more strenuous than the equivalent at college. I was ahead of my peers when I took Calc 3 after getting credit for Calc 1&2 through the two AP exams. I can't say much for AP Euro or my first (algebra-based) physics class, but my physics knowledge was on par with my peers when I took E&M after getting AP credit for Mechanics (Physics C) and when I attempted German 301 (I decided a week in that I preferred not skipping lunch three days a week) after getting credit for 001, 002, 003, and 201 for a 4 on the AP exam. I would say that the problem is likely that students who shouldn't be taking the AP courses in the first place are being pushed into it by parents, administrators, or by pressure to stay ahead to get into college. I certainly saw a fair number of those when I was in school (graduated in 2007). In many cases I felt that the AP courses were harder than their college equivalencies, but I suppose it all depends on teachers and the schools.

/Didn't take either of the AP English exams because PSU doesn't give credit for them
//No, I didn't have a life in high school *sob*
 
2013-08-21 11:11:48 AM  

I May Be Crazy But...: draypresct: I May Be Crazy But...: aseras: I hated proofs and especially integrals and derivatives when you could look at a formula use the substitution/chain rule and know the answer in 1 second. but to do a full proof it took 5 pages of doodling to get the same answer.

I suppose those are, technically, proofs, but they're mostly just algebraic masturbation. (You do it alone, feel dirty afterwards, and nobody wants to see the result). Don't discount all proofs because of them. Real proofs are fun, and really good ones can be delightful.

I'm a fan of one-step graphic proofs, like the famous pythagorean one.

Looking for that, I just spent a distracted time looking through these:

http://mathoverflow.net/questions/8846/proofs-without-words

From there: 31.5=32.5 (The poster calls it "The standard Proof that...", much to my amusement)

[farm1.static.flickr.com image 288x250]


Putting that in a series of graphic proof-porn is like putting RuPaul in the middle of a bunch of actresses. Makes you look at all the other pictures just a little more closely . . .
 
2013-08-21 11:14:06 AM  
How is this rapid learning.  The AP classes I took (10+ years ago) devoted much more time to the subject than a college course.

When I took BC calc we met for 1 and a half periods a day (one period alternated with gym), so about 5 hours of class time/week for an entire school year as opposed to 3 hours of meetings/week for 15 weeks in a college course.  To take AP physics, chemistry, or biology at my high school you had to take the honors level high school course first (9th-11th grade) then as a senior you could take one AP science for two periods/day (I never had time).  That said everyone in my calculus class got a 5 on the AP test, so I guess that was not the standard approach.

/didn't actually get any credit for my 5 or 6 ap classes anyway
 
2013-08-21 11:15:29 AM  
I took a full semester of college classes in high school and loved coming in as a 2nd semester freshman. My school was a private school with cooperation between the local community college 30 minutes away. I had it very nice, and circumstances are different for everyone.

Saving money only works if you actually learn enough to test out of those intro classes and don't waste the time by being a super-duper-ultra-mega-senior (those are called doctors, you lazy retards)
 
2013-08-21 11:17:16 AM  

draypresct: Putting that in a series of graphic proof-porn is like putting RuPaul in the middle of a bunch of actresses. Makes you look at all the other pictures just a little more closely . . .


Pretty much. It took me a couple minutes to figure out what they'd done, too. I love it.
 
2013-08-21 11:19:55 AM  

pkellmey: I took enough AP classes that I save myself a semester and a half worth of college expenses. I then tested out of enough courses to clear another semester. That came in really handy when I decided to drastically change majors mid-sophomore year. I can't think of a moment where I used anything from my university education for anything other than trivia contests. I just basically paid money for a piece of paper that I used to get a job with.


I ended up with 2 semesters worth of credits in just AP exams. I should have taken the test to get out of Chem, too, but I was a moron and decided not to. Mine came in handy when I got mono one semester and pneumonia the next and decided to drop my course-load until I could have a full semester without feeling like death (didn't happen). Still graduated a semester early. If I had kept up the pace I had my first year and a half, my advisor told me I'd have probably graduated in 2.5 years, which he thought would be a bad move for me, just in terms of maturity and sanity. And who wants to graduate college without ever even having a legal drink?
 
2013-08-21 11:21:55 AM  

I May Be Crazy But...: http://mathoverflow.net/questions/8846/proofs-without-words


Took me a minute to figure out what was going on here.  I like it.
 
2013-08-21 11:29:44 AM  

rubi_con_man: It's mostly the underlying skills that you practice in a class that are the reward, not the factoids. Similarly , many classes in high school - especially those with a non-narrative presentation method - teach methods over facts. I put it to you that these methods are what you have used every day.


Right. The methods of learning were taught to me well before college so college was pretty useless for me (other than from the cultural perspective of how other people act at that age, in that environment, from different parts of the world).
 
2013-08-21 11:31:29 AM  
Going through the AP system these are my thoughts on the subject:

- The AP material in many cases is far more in-depth and advanced than any Freshman/Sophomore College Core Curriculum course could ever be.
- The extremely limited amount of time given for the AP exams is outrageous, due to the fact that the AP Exam does not test for Mastery of content, but rather gauges the level of understanding. Some exams that require a lot of reading and computing, should be given far more time.
- The "regular" classes versus the AP classes are ridiculous. Despite the AP curriculum and system having its issues, it is how a "normal" learning experience should be. My registrar mistakenly placed me in remedial English my Senior year despite only being previously enrolled in AP classes. It took the school two weeks to correct the situation whereby I was exposed to a "normal" class. I swear that it was the most depressing thing I witnessed. The kids were all uninterested, the teacher was deflated, and we literally did nothing in class. When I transferred into the AP class, I had already missed 2 quizzes, a test, a response essay, and everyone was participating and wanted to be in the class. It was a night and day difference.
- The AP material in many cases is too much to retain. You do not have to take the tests if you are in the AP classes, that is completely up to the student. If you choose to take the test, your study patterns will be different than a student who does not. Your primary objective then isn't to learn the content, but to remember the content. One implies a mastery and understanding of the material, with the latter being short-term.
- Colleges do not have to accept AP test scores to place out of courses. They further can require any grade they wish in order to qualify for exemption. Where one university may require a 3, another may require a 4. It is best for students to understand ahead of time if their university (universities) they have chosen accept(s) AP exemptions because it may not be worthwhile at all to take the exam.
- The AP system is simply a method of separating the anchors from the sails. It does not do anyone any good if you have kids that don't want to be in class whose parents do not support them. The only downside to this is all of the attention is placed on the students in the AP classes and the rest of the students are left behind. There is a huge discrepancy between the quality of education and those kids in the regular classes are completely forgotten.
- I would not EVER place my child in a regular course and I do not regret going through the AP system whatsoever.
- I probably retained only 5% of what was taught in the AP courses (granted high school was 12 yrs ago), but as a result received a great degree from a college and am gainfully employed.

The problem does not lie within AP courses but rather our entire education system. We do not stress mastery and push students into directions that should not go rather foster and support them where their natural inclinations and passion is. I find it deplorable that not until your Junior/Senior year of college, are you really given the opportunity to do what you want to do. Then when these kids get out of college, oh shiat, they don't know what to do with their degree and probably go off into doing something TOTALLY different that their field of focus wasn't really in. Stop teaching for the test. Stop conventional testing. Start teaching towards mastery.
 
2013-08-21 11:33:55 AM  

UberDave: rumpelstiltskin: somedude210:
in our education system, probably

/electrical engineer
//hated proofs with a passion

But if you had to learn what they were, that's good. I know engineers generally don't need to ever, in their lives, prove anything, but it's at least a sort of intelligence test. If you can't do it at all, you can't be an engineer. That should be the rule.

Agreed.  Such is a must for computer programmers - not because you ever use proofs (you use algebra mostly) in programming but if you can understand proofs you can understand what many full time coders need to understand with computer algorithms (complexities, intricacies, whatever).

I have many teacher friends and they generally tell me that AP classes are a joke now days.  Most of them are easy to get in to and if the kid doesn't pass the test, many parents will come up to the school and badger the teacher into letting their kid in the AP class.


Bwhahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

The fact that you think math has anything to do with coding outside of academics is a joke. I can't think of one code monkey who can remember how to do a proof 3 years after college. As for code monkeys understanding algorithms, again doesn't happen. Those folks who do understand don't stay coders, they get promoted to business analyst, team lead, senior engineer, etc... and then they rarely code.
 
2013-08-21 11:35:17 AM  
The thing that I'm questioning about AP classes these days is why some schools are routinely pushing 14 and 15 year olds into them. I've got a cousin who was tracked into AP Composition in 9th grade. A friend's kid who's high school put him in AP US History in 10th. I mean, I 100% dig that there are some kids who are competent to do college-level work before getting a learner's permit, even kids who aren't named Doogie Howser, but it reads to me like some of these high schools are trying to push themselves as uber-elite by using APs in place of honors courses, instead of as a followup to them.

The AP program is one of the few standardized testing programs that I'll buy into as not completely useless, but schools are making it more important than it actually is and as a result making it less useful. I'm glad to read something that at least suggests that the pass rates aren't inflated compared with 20 years ago, because there's little enough shortage of students who come to college thinking that they're better prepared than they actually are.
 
2013-08-21 11:35:40 AM  
my oldest son had a choice of going to an IB program and all the AP classes that he wanted to take or go to a dual enrollment school and get actual college credit. he decided to do the dual enrollment program. he just started on monday. he already had three hs credits from middle school. he is doing two college courses this year. for 10th thru 12th grade he would be a full time college student and design his own schedule.

his goal is to get his associates in those three years and then transfer to another school to finish up.

he made the choice after talking to a bunch of cousins and friends of the family who had done the IB program. not a single one is glad they did it. they got less than full credit and many had to repeat a lot of what they did in high school when they got to college even after acing the ap exam. most of them wish they had a program similar to what he has now.

i joked that his football team (technically his HS doesn't have one but the college does) could beat anyone else's HS team here in south florida but it is FAU so...there could be some doubt as to that statement.
 
2013-08-21 11:40:51 AM  
Sad truth:

The extortion money you pay to colleges to get a job temporarily fills your head with worthless crap unusable in the real world. It's best forgotten as quickly as possible anyway. College is racket.

I forgot all about mainframes and COBOL and RPG about 2 months after teaching myself C and C++ on PCs (after college).

Well rounded Education = Congratulations, you're an ignorant chump who is deep, deep in debt.
 
2013-08-21 11:43:58 AM  

lingua: The thing that I'm questioning about AP classes these days is why some schools are routinely pushing 14 and 15 year olds into them. I've got a cousin who was tracked into AP Composition in 9th grade. A friend's kid who's high school put him in AP US History in 10th. I mean, I 100% dig that there are some kids who are competent to do college-level work before getting a learner's permit, even kids who aren't named Doogie Howser, but it reads to me like some of these high schools are trying to push themselves as uber-elite by using APs in place of honors courses, instead of as a followup to them.

The AP program is one of the few standardized testing programs that I'll buy into as not completely useless, but schools are making it more important than it actually is and as a result making it less useful. I'm glad to read something that at least suggests that the pass rates aren't inflated compared with 20 years ago, because there's little enough shortage of students who come to college thinking that they're better prepared than they actually are.


AP classes are essentially a "Private School" inside of a Public School. For the schools, it is far easier to divert your resources towards advancing the group with the most potential and greatest chance of success. The first thing that needs to be done from the school perspective is to divide the students into two categories, I refer to them as sails and anchors. The anchors will only hold everyone else back and are just there for the ride and because they have to be there. The sails push themselves and others along and are going places. Teaching a class that has just 1 anchor in it can hold up the learning process for the ENTIRE class. This is why it is extremely important to weed the anchors out. Now, you might sit here and think this is wrong and those poor souls were never given a fair shake. I disagree. Not all students deserve the same attention, especially when it is at someone else's expense. Students that do not want to be there and learn cannot be forced to care and learn.
 
2013-08-21 11:48:23 AM  
Advanced Placement classes failing students Isn't this backward, Politico?

Sign up dumb students to take hard tests, be astonished when they fail.  Modern American education orthodoxy in a nutshell.
 
2013-08-21 11:53:18 AM  
I graduated high school in 2001, so my AP experience is dated by almost a decade and a half.

The Advanced Placement program in itself isn't hosed, it's the APPLICATION of it that is.  My school district (Des Moines, IA) had a unique set-up - 5 main high schools and sixth building that served as a shelter for all the programs there was a need for in the district, but not at the level that justified having that offering in every school - for example, Japanese.  Every school had French and Spanish, but you could take Mandarin or Japanese at Central.  Other programs included advanced auto shop, marine biology, tv/radio production, some English as a Second Language, an alternative high school (for teen moms and juvenile delinquents), and a crap ton of AP courses.  The cafeteria was really weird to look at - Auto Shop table, Bosnian table, Anime table, nerd table, etc.

The AP instructors at Central tended to senior in the district and all of the students were there by choice (or parental coercion).  To get into the program you pretty much had to qualify in 7th grade on a standardized test (ITBS).  The physics instructor was actually a regular grader for the AP exams.  The environment was phenomenal.  It still had a lot of the usual high school BS, but the discipline approach was a bit different and everyone in the class was at a more even (and elevated) level than a traditional classroom.  The concentration of "smart" students to push each other and highly experienced instructors led this one program to have more AP Scholars (score 3 or higher on 3 or more exams) than the entire state of Minnesota (at least in 2000).  This is how AP should be done - motivated kids that can handle the work, given the material in an undiluted fashion.

Contrast that to my "home" high school (half a day at Central, half a day at Lincoln).  There were a few AP courses offered - English, Psychology, maybe some social studies.  The English teacher was fairly indignant about the benefit of taking the exam, but knew in her gut that HER students were just as well prepared for the AP test as the Central students.  I was friends with some of her students.  They would not have been.

Of course as the program expands and is pushed on to more students there's going to be a higher failure rate.  22% get the lowest grade now - it's a test that has five scores and one fifth get the lowest score - fainting couch, indeed!  Of course research shows students aren't going to benefit from the class if the don't pass the exam.  Passing the exam IS THE PROOF that you benefited from it.  Of course schools that want to look good are going to push more students into AP courses only to see them fail.  That's human nature.  Of course millions are spent training new teacher and buying textbooks.  You need different textbooks.  You need better educated teachers - they're now essentially community college instructors.

As for college acceptance; at Iowa State University, AP physics got you out of the algebra based physics course.  Engineers were required to take Calc based.  AP English got you out of the English courses they expected foreign students to take.  If you tried to get credit for AP Chemistry, you had to meet with a prof from the Chem dept and show them your lab/course notebook.

My opinion is the AP tests were on par with or MORE difficult that most finals I had in college.  Instead of a final covering one semester of learning it covered two.  In college you get used to how your instructor writes tests.   AP tests were written by a committee whose members did not teach you (although old tests are available and good AP instructors will sprinkle those questions into their own exams).  I seem to recall the AP history course exams included a couple long essay (1 page plus) questions, multiple short essay (half page?), and then multiple choice.  My favorite question was a short essay that showed a B&W photo of a crowd in a street with a person throwing a paver/rock.  It was captioned "Paris, France - 1968".  The prompt was, "Describe what is happening in this picture, what lead up to it, and what the consequences were."  I failed on AP test - comp sci.  I also got a D or C- in the course, so it made sense.  I passed the rest that I took.

During my high school career, I took AP Language and Comp, Lit and Comp, Physics, American History, World History, European History, US Gov, Comparative Government, Computer Science, and Psychology.  I entered Iowa State with 25 credits under my belt.  Almost nothing applied to my major (Mechanical Engineering) - but registration for housing and classes occurred based on your number of credits, so I always had first pick compared to my peer.

Based on this article and my own experiences, the AP program is a good program as put out by the College Board.  It is up to the schools and the students to make sure that they're applied properly.

naughtyrev: And buried in the last paragraph is the real reason AP classes have been on the rise - they are a cash cow for the College Board.


That wasn't the last paragraph.  That was the end of the first page.  And the same paragraph mentioned how only recently it became a cash cow.

/2 cents
 
2013-08-21 11:55:30 AM  

Tanukis_Parachute: my oldest son had a choice of going to an IB program and all the AP classes that he wanted to take or go to a dual enrollment school and get actual college credit. he decided to do the dual enrollment program. he just started on monday. he already had three hs credits from middle school. he is doing two college courses this year. for 10th thru 12th grade he would be a full time college student and design his own schedule.

his goal is to get his associates in those three years and then transfer to another school to finish up.

he made the choice after talking to a bunch of cousins and friends of the family who had done the IB program. not a single one is glad they did it. they got less than full credit and many had to repeat a lot of what they did in high school when they got to college even after acing the ap exam. most of them wish they had a program similar to what he has now.

i joked that his football team (technically his HS doesn't have one but the college does) could beat anyone else's HS team here in south florida but it is FAU so...there could be some doubt as to that statement.


To be fair, the dual-enrollment or "for college credit" courses offered by universities are a far less of a challenge. In addition to my AP courses, I took a few dual-enrollment courses. Essentially, you are mailed a course book and can take the class at your own pace. You could procrastinate and wait until the last day then submit all of your assignments at once, or you can basically power through it all and complete a semester's worth of work in a week or two. I have to say, for someone who worked and went to school it was great. I loved everything about the dual-enrollment course and it was very similar to the distance learning programs offered at a university. I literally was finished with my entire semester's work in 2 weeks and all of the tests were done open-book style via the web, save for the final (which you could potentially place out of and not have to take) which you had to sit in a room at your school monitored to do. There were a few other kids that did the program with me, and we all got together and did our assignments as a group. I found this collaborative approach way more helpful than a typical class environment. We did not need an instructor either since it was all written down.

Having said that, my AP courses were FAR more challenging than the dual-enrollment courses, but the dual-enrollment courses were awesome despite not teaching a whole lot. Further, the dual-enrollment does simulate the college experience more closely as well as the real world. The real world typically does not put an instructor in front of you with a regimented schedule. You collaborate, a lot. You are on your own to succeed and your work does have a deadline, but it is up to you how to manage your time. The school system baby's kids and manages their time for them. That is bullshiat. If you have a student that is capable of mastering a subject immediately, why have to sit in that class for 2 hours a day? Why not skip to the next topic? That same student might however encounter obstacles that halt their progression and in a typical class environment, they would be left behind. For my job, I find a project and with the client come up with a deadline. During a regular day, I might start and stop work on that particular project and weave various other activities in. Time-management is a VERY important lesson kids need to learn that they do not learn in the traditional classroom.
 
2013-08-21 11:58:55 AM  

lingua: The thing that I'm questioning about AP classes these days is why some schools are routinely pushing 14 and 15 year olds into them. I've got a cousin who was tracked into AP Composition in 9th grade. A friend's kid who's high school put him in AP US History in 10th. I mean, I 100% dig that there are some kids who are competent to do college-level work before getting a learner's permit, even kids who aren't named Doogie Howser, but it reads to me like some of these high schools are trying to push themselves as uber-elite by using APs in place of honors courses, instead of as a followup to them.

The AP program is one of the few standardized testing programs that I'll buy into as not completely useless, but schools are making it more important than it actually is and as a result making it less useful. I'm glad to read something that at least suggests that the pass rates aren't inflated compared with 20 years ago, because there's little enough shortage of students who come to college thinking that they're better prepared than they actually are.


My high school let freshmen take AP Physics B and from there you could pick what you wanted to do, but it was assumed that if you had done that, you would do AP Chem sophomore year. To do this, you had to get special permission from your 8th grade math teacher, and you had to have been in "gifted" math, because you had to take Algebra 2 concurrently (and I think I had to get a form signed by my parents, too). There were 6 freshmen in my AP Physics class after a couple dropped in the first month, out of a class of 17, if I remember correctly. It was totally worth it, but I had no free time, and it was a good 7 weeks before it all started clicking and my grade dragged. And I'm definitely glad my parents wouldn't let me quit when I wanted to. And in many ways, as I progressed through high school, I found the AP classes easier than Honors classes, partly because the material was more engaging and moved more quickly, and partly because there was less busy work, which is my mortal enemy.

I got a lot of freedom to take what I wanted so long as I got my 7.5 credits a year when I was in high school. First time I met with my guidance counselor, she admitted to me that I was her first student who had taken AP Physics in 9th grade and she had no idea what to do with me. Many of my classmates didn't get anything like this freedom as their counselors just pushed them along in the prescribed order. They still wouldn't let me replace phys ed with another calculus class my junior year, though, even when I promised to double up my senior year.
 
2013-08-21 12:04:37 PM  

the money is in the banana stand: lingua: The thing that I'm questioning about AP classes these days is why some schools are routinely pushing 14 and 15 year olds into them. I've got a cousin who was tracked into AP Composition in 9th grade. A friend's kid who's high school put him in AP US History in 10th. I mean, I 100% dig that there are some kids who are competent to do college-level work before getting a learner's permit, even kids who aren't named Doogie Howser, but it reads to me like some of these high schools are trying to push themselves as uber-elite by using APs in place of honors courses, instead of as a followup to them.

The AP program is one of the few standardized testing programs that I'll buy into as not completely useless, but schools are making it more important than it actually is and as a result making it less useful. I'm glad to read something that at least suggests that the pass rates aren't inflated compared with 20 years ago, because there's little enough shortage of students who come to college thinking that they're better prepared than they actually are.

AP classes are essentially a "Private School" inside of a Public School. For the schools, it is far easier to divert your resources towards advancing the group with the most potential and greatest chance of success. The first thing that needs to be done from the school perspective is to divide the students into two categories, I refer to them as sails and anchors. The anchors will only hold everyone else back and are just there for the ride and because they have to be there. The sails push themselves and others along and are going places. Teaching a class that has just 1 anchor in it can hold up the learning process for the ENTIRE class. This is why it is extremely important to weed the anchors out. Now, you might sit here and think this is wrong and those poor souls were never given a fair shake. I disagree. Not all students deserve the same attention, especially when it is at someone else's expense. Students that do n ...


Unfortunately, separating the low-performing students from the high-performing leads them to do worse.
 
2013-08-21 12:15:02 PM  
the money is in the banana stand:
Going through the AP system these are my thoughts on the subject:

- The AP material in many cases is far more in-depth and (snip)


This.


keypusher: Advanced Placement classes failing students -  Isn't this backward, Politico?


That.
 
2013-08-21 12:19:09 PM  

DoctorWhat: Unfortunately, separating the low-performing students from the high-performing leads them to do worse.


So you argue not removing the students that hold everyone else back? How exactly is that fair? If students need extra care and attention paid to them, they should be in smaller break-out sessions or classes. Students that absolutely do not want to be there and learn cannot be forced to do so. I am not saying give up on them, but they will only drag everyone else down with them.
 
2013-08-21 12:20:41 PM  

SaladMonkey: rumpelstiltskin: I don't know anything first hand about AP classes, since they weren't a big deal when I was in school. If a kid was a little bit ahead, he just enrolled in a few classes at either the local campus of Big State U, or maybe a JUCO if he was poor. And his high school gave him credit, and he got college credits, and everyone was happy except the testing company who made no money.
But what little I do know, or think I know, disturbs me. And that's that AP Calculus doesn't even require epsilon-delta proofs. How is that even calculus? That's just future engineer monkey-math.
So what I wonder is, are all the AP classes watered down like that?

It might depend on the school district.  I took AP classes in the late 90s and remember them being fairly strenuous (I had good teachers).  What I learned in high school AP Calc placed me out of college Calc 101, and the knowledge from AP Calc took me a third of the way through college Calc II.

/also, your post saddened me.  I was a math minor, but now I can't even remember what the hell an epsilon-delta proof is.


Hell, I'm CURRENTLY majoring in Physics, and I'm not entirely sure what he's talking about.
 
2013-08-21 12:36:25 PM  

the money is in the banana stand: Tanukis_Parachute: my oldest son had a choice of going to an IB program and all the AP classes that he wanted to take or go to a dual enrollment school and get actual college credit. he decided to do the dual enrollment program. he just started on monday. he already had three hs credits from middle school. he is doing two college courses this year. for 10th thru 12th grade he would be a full time college student and design his own schedule.

his goal is to get his associates in those three years and then transfer to another school to finish up.

he made the choice after talking to a bunch of cousins and friends of the family who had done the IB program. not a single one is glad they did it. they got less than full credit and many had to repeat a lot of what they did in high school when they got to college even after acing the ap exam. most of them wish they had a program similar to what he has now.

i joked that his football team (technically his HS doesn't have one but the college does) could beat anyone else's HS team here in south florida but it is FAU so...there could be some doubt as to that statement.

To be fair, the dual-enrollment or "for college credit" courses offered by universities are a far less of a challenge. In addition to my AP courses, I took a few dual-enrollment courses. Essentially, you are mailed a course book and can take the class at your own pace. You could procrastinate and wait until the last day then submit all of your assignments at once, or you can basically power through it all and complete a semester's worth of work in a week or two. I have to say, for someone who worked and went to school it was great. I loved everything about the dual-enrollment course and it was very similar to the distance learning programs offered at a university. I literally was finished with my entire semester's work in 2 weeks and all of the tests were done open-book style via the web, save for the final (which you could potentially place out of and not have ...


his dual enrollment aren't books to take home. he will be going and sitting in the same classrooms as the college students.
 
2013-08-21 12:49:04 PM  

Tanukis_Parachute: his dual enrollment aren't books to take home. he will be going and sitting in the same classrooms as the college students.


Either way, the course material in a Frehsman or Sophomore college course is far less demanding and extensive than an AP class. Let's face it, most professors, particularly ones for Core 1000-2000 level courses, don't really do much of anything besides read the Powerpoint. Essentially, you are going to class to listen to someone read the textbook summarized in their words. My first semester at my university, I was punctual and attended every class and took notes. Quickly, I realized that I could be far more efficient and effective if I skipped class altogether and did all of my work at my own pace. This allowed me to cover entire chapters and concepts in a far shorter time-frame than the students physically attending class. I could already access my course power-point slides, in some case the recording of the lecture, had my textbook(s) out, and could Google or read other sources as I was going through the material and actually learning it. You see, in class, all you REALLY do is take notes on a lecture, which is basically just that professor's interpretation or understanding of the material. Then, after class you have to recall that information and make sense of your abbreviated notes of something that is already a second-hand explanation. To me, that is not only inefficient usage of time, but not very effective as well.
 
2013-08-21 01:01:03 PM  

the money is in the banana stand: DoctorWhat: Unfortunately, separating the low-performing students from the high-performing leads them to do worse.

So you argue not removing the students that hold everyone else back? How exactly is that fair? If students need extra care and attention paid to them, they should be in smaller break-out sessions or classes. Students that absolutely do not want to be there and learn cannot be forced to do so. I am not saying give up on them, but they will only drag everyone else down with them.


Found a quick summary of some research findings here: http://researchhighachievers.wicomico.wikispaces.net/file/view/Tracki n g+and+Ability+Grouping.pdf

I don't really know what the best solution is.  I benefited from being in many classes composed of the more motivated, harder working students, and my one high school experience with a lower tracked classroom (due to poor counseling) was strikingly bad.  But separating out lower-performing students leads to worse educational outcomes for them.  In general, they do not get "extra care and attention" or "smaller break-out sessions or classes", but rather a steady diet of low expectations and low-quality instruction.
 
2013-08-21 01:02:03 PM  
the money is in the banana stand:You see, in class, all you REALLY do is take notes on a lecture, which is basically just that professor's interpretation or understanding of the material. Then, after class you have to recall that information and make sense of your abbreviated notes of something that is already a second-hand explanation. To me, that is not only inefficient usage of time, but not very effective as well.

In my college, class attendance was mandatory or highly recommended for most classes because the class material was not based only on the book facts as much as all of the extra information provided in the lecture. The text books usually gave overarching ideas, the lectures gave specific details. Nearly every teacher gave this identical pattern for their class. One student teacher said the percentage of class attendance was looked at in teacher evaluations, but I doubt that was really the case.
 
2013-08-21 01:07:26 PM  

pkellmey: the money is in the banana stand:You see, in class, all you REALLY do is take notes on a lecture, which is basically just that professor's interpretation or understanding of the material. Then, after class you have to recall that information and make sense of your abbreviated notes of something that is already a second-hand explanation. To me, that is not only inefficient usage of time, but not very effective as well.

In my college, class attendance was mandatory or highly recommended for most classes because the class material was not based only on the book facts as much as all of the extra information provided in the lecture. The text books usually gave overarching ideas, the lectures gave specific details. Nearly every teacher gave this identical pattern for their class. One student teacher said the percentage of class attendance was looked at in teacher evaluations, but I doubt that was really the case.


Many of my classes worked this way, but not all.  I particularly recall one math class I took that I could never attend due to scheduling conflicts.  I worked it out with the professor beforehand, never attended lectures, read the book, turned in all the homework, and took the tests earlier in the same day as the class did.  I ended up with the highest grade in the class.  I always wondered how the professor felt about that.  The only bad experience with that class was that there were group homework projects, and by not actually being in class when the groups were assigned, I ended up with the misfits that no one wanted.
 
2013-08-21 01:18:49 PM  

robbiex0r: /never did make it through calc II


Me neither. Switched from CS to BBA with focus in MIS. They said I had more math than 95% of the kids at the college of business.

At least I was able to find a major compatible with my rampant binge drinking and drug use, rather than the unthinkable alternative of partying less.
 
2013-08-21 01:20:35 PM  

pkellmey: the money is in the banana stand:You see, in class, all you REALLY do is take notes on a lecture, which is basically just that professor's interpretation or understanding of the material. Then, after class you have to recall that information and make sense of your abbreviated notes of something that is already a second-hand explanation. To me, that is not only inefficient usage of time, but not very effective as well.

In my college, class attendance was mandatory or highly recommended for most classes because the class material was not based only on the book facts as much as all of the extra information provided in the lecture. The text books usually gave overarching ideas, the lectures gave specific details. Nearly every teacher gave this identical pattern for their class. One student teacher said the percentage of class attendance was looked at in teacher evaluations, but I doubt that was really the case.


It depends the level of the course. This is mostly in reference to Core curriculum, which is more or less an extension of high school. These classes typically took place in large theaters of 300+ kids in each class. If the professor (rarely) had anything extra to include that wasn't found in the textbooks, that was documented in the power-point presentation and many of my classes were recorded so I could hop online and review anything I had questions on if I wanted to. For example, Core curriculum Elements of Calculus can be learned entirely from a textbook.

As far as attendance is concerned, my college didn't care about attendance until we reached higher level courses. These courses could not really be absorbed through a book and required class participation and discussion.
 
2013-08-21 02:09:34 PM  
I took 9 APs, got 4s and 5s on all of them, and then proceeded to attend a second-tier university solely because it hands credit out for them like candy. I graduated in two years and saved somewhere around $20,000 in the process. That's a 2000% ROI on the thousand dollars I paid in testing fees.

Yes, a lot of kids who can't handle the curriculum are being pushed into taking the tests and failing. But guess what? A lot of kids who can't handle college are being pushed into going to university and failing. And frankly, college probably isn't going to go very well for you if you can't get a 3 or better on one of the non-STEM AP tests after studying the topic every day for a year in a classroom setting.
 
2013-08-21 02:12:38 PM  
My thoughts:

On AP:
* Honors and AP were the same thing.  Non-Honors was farking depressing and was split about 40/40/20 between gangs/idiots/People who weren't good at that subject and were taking 4 other AP classes.
* Honestly, some of the AP courses were harder than college courses.
* AP is a fantastic prep for college curves.  "Oh, you got a 72% on this test.  But that's OK, because the highest grade was a 75 and the average was a 62, so you get an A".
* AP is your buddy as far as college goes.  43 credits, and a year of prereqs.

Proofs:
* I've seen Epsilon proofs (in that they say "This is the formal definition of limit and because it takes forever, we'll let you skip over it to the obvious bits"), but I've never done them and I made it all the way to Diff EQ in college.
* Fark proofs.  I've never used them, and being asked to derive some random LSD-driven proof on a final without ever having seen it or one like it before is JUST DUMB (On a related note, FARK diagonalization).
 
2013-08-21 02:22:09 PM  

Slaves2Darkness: UberDave:

Agreed.  Such is a must for computer programmers - not because you ever use proofs (you use algebra mostly) in programming but if you can understand proofs you can understand what many full time coders need to understand with computer algorithms (complexities, intricacies, whatever).

Bwhahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

The fact that you think math has anything to do with coding outside of academics is a joke. I can't think of one code monkey who can remember how to do a proof 3 years after college. As for code monkeys understanding algorithms, again doesn't happen. Those folks who do understand don't stay coders, they get promoted to business analyst, team lead, senior engineer, etc... and then they rarely code.



You totally missed the point in your haste to degrade someone across the internet (we could have had a conversation here but you took the douchebag route).  This has nothing to do with remembering a proof 3 years after college.  We were talking about what *is* taught at the college level and how it applies or prepares one for their chosen field.

What *is* amusing is that you think someone's understanding computer algorithms has anything major to do with getting promoted to "business analyst", "team lead", "senior engineer" or any other slew of "cool" titles that really mean jack and shiat as to someone's level of knowledge or capability.
 
2013-08-21 04:41:43 PM  

Pangea: robbiex0r: /never did make it through calc II

Me neither. Switched from CS to BBA with focus in MIS. They said I had more math than 95% of the kids at the college of business.

At least I was able to find a major compatible with my rampant binge drinking and drug use, rather than the unthinkable alternative of partying less.


I switched from CS to IS, which was in the college of business. Those kids had to take "Business Calc" which was like.. . I dunno, a mix of stats and beginner calculus. Since I had [barely] passed Calc I (the second time) I did not need to take that silly fake calculus class.

I was not much of a partier, but one of my CS courses did drive me into the arms of alcohol.
 
2013-08-21 05:21:12 PM  
My take on this is that lots of kids are being pushed into taking AP classes who shouldn't really be taking them then failing. It is really no surprise that those kids are not benefitting. Put a bunch of third graders in a calculus or molecular biology class and the same thing would happen. Doesn't mean that the few truly gifted young kids who could pass those classes wouldn't benefit from taking them.
 
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