Mid-Year Assessment of Your AP Program

As the fall semester draws to a close, this is a good time to take a step back and do an assessment in order to better build your AP program through the spring semester. Here are a few things to consider:

• Are AP teachers using actual AP exam questions as much as possible to best prepare students for the May exams? Many teachers have already started “Multiple Choice Mondays” and “Free Response Fridays” to give kids experience with the format and rigor of the AP exam.
• Have AP teachers fully explored the resources available at AP Central? I am always surprised in speaking to AP teachers who are not aware of the curriculum modules and special focus materials that are posted there. Perhaps there will a few hours during the winter break that you can click around and see what all is available.
• Have AP teachers set particular goals about topics they would like to improve based on their Instructional Planning Report and have they sought professional development opportunities to address those topics?
• By now, you have probably identified a few areas in which your students can be better prepared for their AP class through their previous coursework. Have you spoken to other teachers on your vertical team about how they might better prepare students by tweaking their curriculum, instructional strategies or assessments?
• PSAT results from October will soon be available. Have you made use of the Summary of Answers and Skills to identify strengths and weaknesses in your curriculum and instruction? Have you looked at AP Potential data to determine what students may be recruited for your AP class next year? You might want to check out some of my previous posts about utilizing PSAT results.
• Right now, many of your former students are returning from college for their winter breaks and can serve as excellent sources of motivation for your AP students by coming to your classes in early January and talking about what best prepared them for college and what they wish they had known while still in high school. Just today, one of my former students was saying how much he wished he had taken AP courses in computer science and statistics.
• Many schools will begin course registration for the 2012-2013 schoolyear in the first few weeks of the spring semester. What plans do you have in place for promoting your AP class? My school is hoping to carry out an AP Awareness Week during February. I will write about that in a future blog post.
• I know summer is really far off, but you might want to think about summer activities that will build your AP program. My school offers a summer Pre-Calculus class to juniors who are excelling in Algebra 2 who want to take AP Calculus as seniors. I need to start identifying possible candidates for that summer school class based on first semester grades. One of our principals also wants to host an “AP Boot Camp” for students who will be new to AP or PreAP classes next year.
• With the economy as it is, I will spend some time brainstorming during winter break about how we can help students who might not be able to afford their AP exam registration fees. Fee waivers are available but many families being squeezed by the economy right now might not qualify.

An AP program does not build itself. It takes hard work from students, teachers, counselors and administrators. Sometimes we get so consumed in that work that we forget to take a break and rest and rejuvenate so we can come back to our classrooms with fresh energy and motivation. Take some time to enjoy the holiday season with friends and family. I have big plans for fun during the winter break! You will hear from me again in early January. Thanks, as always, for reading.

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One Response to “Mid-Year Assessment of Your AP Program”

  1. Cedric French-Galan Says:

    These are great ideas. I am looking forward to using the winter break to plan for the spring semester. I have a number of students who are talking about moving from BC to AB in the spring. What do you usually do about students talking about moving? Thanks for all your help. 🙂

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