The College Board recently announced major changes to the Advanced Placement (AP) test format. These changes will affect the rest of the year for AP students and teachers. So we reached out to all the AP teachers in the school to see what they thought of the changes. Here are some of their answers:
What are your thoughts on the change?
Shoshanna Kostant, AP Calculus BC:
I think they’re really depending on kids being honorable about how they’re going to answer the questions and not cheat or talk to anyone else or use notes. It’s basically using the honor code at this point. But I know a lot of colleges have to do this now as well, when they give final exams, so I don’t think it’s any different that way. In terms of writing a written response on the computer, as opposed to by hand, that just makes the mathematics harder. I guess they’re going to have a math keyboard or something, where you can write your integral, but I really have no sense of how that’s going to work. I’m not really worried about kids learning the material for the AP, it’s just that we didn’t get to assist people and make sure that they actually learned the Taylor series stuff, and there is some convergence on there. So we don’t know how well people are prepared, and much of this AP stuff is going to be what kids are willing to do on their own, because teachers themselves can really only hope that kids are motivated enough without the grades to make it happen.
Donna Sartanowicz, AP Art and Design:
The AP Art and Design exam had already seen significant structural changes this year which we were working through. The exam is very much inquiry and project-based so students were already working on individual avenues of inquiry that are open and responsive – they can continue that work at home. Artists are creative thinkers so although these are not ideal circumstances students will continue to think creatively and incorporate their current experiences into their work. As for the pandemic necessitated changes to the exam, the College Board has reduced the number of works required for completing the exam to reflect the shortened timeframe, they have made all the submissions digital so that there is no mailing in of actual work, and they have pushed back the deadline for completion. If students decide to continue and submit the exam I think these changes will be adequate for making that doable for us.
How is your class staying on track?
Tyler Wooley-Brown, AP Physics C:
So, Julia Mangan, who teaches AP Physics I & II, and I just made a video that we posted for our AP students. But as far as my class goes, I’m not at all worried about where we’re at, because one of the benefits to the way that Brookline does AP Physics is that we teach what is ostensibly two courses over the course of one year. So I’ve taught all of the Mechanics exam, and I’ve taught a big chunk of the E&M material. When you look at the content that they’ve truncated from the Mechanics test, it’s not going to matter for my students because they’ve done all of mechanics. And what they’ve truncated from the E&M course also doesn’t really matter to my students, but I do have about a chapter and a half left to teach of what’s going to be on the test. What the curriculum coordinators decided was that we were going to make all of the AP resources available. There’s a bunch of stuff in the AP classrooms, and I’ve opened up all of that material to everybody, so they can access it at whatever rate they can and want to, and they can study whatever parts of it they want to.
Emily McGinnis, AP Spanish Language & Culture:
First of all, one of the most important parts of preparing students for the ap exam is getting them ready for the format, and that’s something that no one really knows right now. I’ve just heard for my exam that it will be a 45-minute exam administered at home, but that’s not a whole lot of information. There’s a table that they give that says what the exam will cover, and they just picked units 1-4 assuming that everyone goes in numerical order, and then there’s a couple fields that just have asterisks, they’ll fill them in later. But right now, I’m just sharing with students that they can cancel with no financial penalty for a full refund if they don’t wanna take the exam. For some students, it might be a good choice. It can certainly alleviate stress and allow them to focus on learning for learning’s sake and not stress about an exam at home. In terms of staying on track, I think there is no track anymore. We’re trying to figure out what makes the most sense for students and teachers to continue learning and continue a positive relationship to school and learning while we’re separated.
How will this change affect the college process for juniors?
Marika Alibhai, AP Statistics:
I can’t imagine that any of this is problematic for students in the way that they fear. I know that students are really worried, like “what about my grades?” or “what about applying to college?”, but you look at the news and every high school junior is having their education disrupted, as is every single senior. So colleges know that there is something going on and they will adjust just as BHS teachers will adjust to. So, teachers of senior classes will know, “oh, the juniors only got through this much, maybe these things were not covered so we’ll need to teach them in our senior year courses”. I think the same will be said for colleges and incoming freshman, every teacher whether you are elementary, secondary, or college-level is going to have to change how and what they teach next year.
Tyler Wooley-Brown, AP Physics C:
My guess is that colleges are going to look at this year’s AP test and say, ‘it doesn’t matter.’ But a lot of them already do that. The reason I teach my course is that there are students interested in learning Physics, and we learn it hard and we learn it fast. And for the students who take it, that’s a nice way to learn.
Read all of the responses from all of the teachers that responded below.