Welcome to a New School Year for Your AP Program!

Hello to my loyal readers and new subscribers! I have taken a hiatus from blogging this summer as I was busy conducting teacher training in various locations (including Saipan!) Now that we are gearing up for a new school year, it’s time to get back to work.

Have you taken the time to examine your AP instructional planning report (IPR) and are you using that to plan improvements for this coming school year? Please refer to a previous blog posted on September 19, 2009 on “Interpreting Your AP Instructional Planning Report,” which is available in the blog archives.

One of the things I am working on right now is a report that I will deliver to our faculty detailing the successes of our AP program in improving participation, performance and diversity. I will also identify some areas for potential growth. It’s always important to look back as well as to look forward.

One of the biggest challenges for our PreAP and AP teaching corps is having them increase the rigor of their classes without merely increasing the workload. In some classes, students are receiving very high grades, but very low scores on the AP exams. Clearly, there is a mis-match that needs to be addressed. It’s difficult though to help teachers determine what rigor looks like for their discipline. It’s not merely assigning more problems or ever increasing amounts of reading. It has much more to do with the quality of the problems or reading assignment than the quantity. Let me be clear that some amount of practice (drill) is necessary in some classes so that students develop fluency in applying procedures. If that’s all they are doing however, they are not likely to perform well on an exam that asks them to transfer knowledge and skills and apply them to novel situations.

At the same time that teachers need to increase the rigor of their classes, they also need to make sure they are providing plenty of support so that students can meet the high standards that the course requires. We specifically ask our teachers to identify at least five “safety nets” they have put in place to assist struggling students. These might include, but are not limited to 1) extra tutorial sessions with the teacher 2) peer tutoring 3) study skill sessions outside of the school day 4) opportunity to correct and/or retake assessments 5) optional projects that allow students to demonstrate mastery of the material 6) online support in the form of video tutorials, blogs, etc. For more ideas, please read “Student Support Mechanisms for AP Classes,” posted on 8/26/2010.

Okay, so in summary, look back using your instructional planning report, look forward by setting some goals and priorities for this school year, increase rigor while also increasing support for students. My goal for this year is to write more, much shorter posts. As always, I greatly appreciate your comments and feedback. If there are particular issues you want me to blog about, let me know. Also, check the archives for past articles that might be helpful.

Thanks, as always, for reading and have a fantastic start to a new school year!

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