Should your Child Take AP Courses?
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Navigating AP Courses - Episode 003
I am super siked to talk to a world famous, ok a 5 mile wide famous, history teacher. We are going to discuss all things AP Courses and everything in between.
Mr. X has a true passion for education and helping students gain a love for knowledge. Mr. X has dipped his toe in all levels of education. He has been an administrator, an elementary teacher and a high school teacher. In addition, he has been a presidential candidate and parent.
He also has an awesome array of hats from powdered wigs to tin foil caps.
Let's see what comes up!
It's Always Halloween in History Class
Mr. X has a wide array of costumes to bring history to life. His favorite costume, a custom made Francis Scott Key outfit, pays homage to his family history in Baltimore. He allows the students try on the costume to absorb the time.
My husband is a history teacher too, and we spent time comparing costume ideas. My hope is that Mr. X and my husband will join forces for their own podcast!
Dressing up allows students to gain a deeper appreciation for history. His goal is to help students appreciate American history. An extra benefit is preparation for the AP Test.
Can you have both? Can you foster a love for learning and teach for the test?
Mr. X thinks that it is possible.
Why do we Push Students Towards AP Courses
At the core, Mr. X feels that AP courses allow students of all backgrounds have the opportunity to pursue more challenging course work. However, the push for AP courses can go to the extreme when kids are pushed beyond their abilities. Are AP tests tide to school grades? If so, how these point distributions came to be, is a mystery known only to those locked away in the government trenches in Tallahassee. Teachers must figure out how to manage them.
Teachers have limited resources but increasing pressures to help students pass the tests. It is crucial to stay true to the core passion of instilling a love of learning in the students. Yes, we need to look at tests, but we need to appreciate the lessons that students can walk away with from an excellently taught AP course.
Mr. X brings up an excellent point in the podcast about the conflicting interests between government policy and student needs.
The criteria changes from state to state, but the obvious way a student lands in an AP course is the parent push. Parents want their kiddos to be successful. However, there can be a push for students to take the course based on their standardized tests. The issue is students are enrolled in the course with high scores on tests but F's in their classes.
Parents need to be an advocate and let their school know if their child is suited for an advanced level course. How do parents remove their children from an AP course if the school refuses to do so?
Make certain you know your child's drop policy at the start of the school year. You might need to sign paperwork or your child might be required to attend tutoring sessions before they can drop an advanced placement course.
Knowledge of laws and procedures is power in this case!
Mr. X says "Students joke that open enrollment is forced enrollment." That may be the case- but it gives students from all backgrounds to have access to the courses.
The issue occurs when the student struggles with the course but is unable to drop the course. How can parents and teachers support students in these situations?
How can Students Be Successful in a AP Course
As an academic coach, my frustration with AP courses is the cloak of secrecy surrounding tests and quizzes in AP classes. I have no access to see what students get right or wrong on tests and quizzes (nor do parents). Teachers must guard the resources of the AP courses so they are not dispersed among students or the internet.
Teachers can lose their ability to teach the class if they allow the test or quiz to leave the classroom.
Mr. X reviews the test in class so students can see their errors. Yet what can parents or students do at home?
Parents and students should review the syllabus or curriculum outline and find outside resources to compliment it. These can be YouTube Videos, books, Khan Academy and similar sources. Teachers often provide resources to the students that can be helpful.
Advanced Placement Courses require studying outside of the classroom and outside the book. It is preparing you for college.
Mr. X jokes that students will say homework lasts 10 hours. If the student is in multiple AP courses it might feel that way. In his class, he estimates 30 min to an hour for reading and notes in his course. There are some days that another course will take more importance over his. The key is balance and not getting too far behind in one class.
Will things Change
Teachers, parents and students are fighting the number of tests and reliance on test data. Changes are coming from Tallahassee, but it will take time. Parents must take ownership of their child's education. Kids might want to be independent in high school, but parents and the community need to speak out for change.
Look at your child's schedule, see if it is leading to overwhelm and be vocal about your child's needs.
The impact of over scheduling on our children
How to see if your scales need calibrating
Who to include on a conversation about schedule reduction
Mr. X | High School History Teacher
Mr. X is a 16 year education professional in private and public schools. He has served as an elementary, middle, and high school teacher, and elementary principal. He is a former teacher of the year at a school and presidential candidate. He also tried out for a professional soccer team at age 45, because - why not?!