We are just starting week number two of AP tests, and it has been complete hysteria at the school, I’ve been really blown away at how crazy it has been. I guess that I went to a high school that didn’t really emphasize the APs, and that they seem to matter a bit more here because of this certificate that all the Jordanian’s must get as their high school equivalency which includes results from your APs, but still, I think it’s been a bit ridiculous…
First, our school policy is that if you have an afternoon exam you are excused from morning classes and if you have an morning exam, you are excused from the afternoon the day before. I have felt like a crazy person because it seems like other people here don’t think that this is absolutely ridiculous – I would love to hear your comments as to what your schools have done in the past or if you agree with me. This whole week, I am at about 75% for all of my classes (I’ll be at 50% on one day), and I haven’t been able to assign really any homework for a while now without a slew of complaints – all of us non-AP teachers have lost so much quality time from our classes because of this. I wouldn’t really care if my students weren’t taking the SAT at the end of the year, but I am already so crunched for time as it is, I didn’t plan on having two useless weeks.
On top of that, students are even tak MORE time off to study for APs. Our attendance report today was EIGHTEEN PAGES long. I have students in my class who are only in one AP class, but are taking Sunday and Monday COMPLETELY OFF to study for their one test. It’s madness! I tried to institute a policy where I am docking grades for skipping class like that to try to keep at least some semblance of a class happening, but it’s been fairly unsuccessful.
All of this has made me (further) question the educational value of these standardized tests, and the AP curriculum. Next year, I think I will be teaching physics again, but then I will also pick up two sections of math, and those might end up being regular Calculus (for all the students who don’t want to take AP). The idea of this is actually exciting to me. A class that doesn’t cater to a test, and doesn’t have another one that follows after (most of these students won’t be taking much further math I assume) means that we can go at a comfortable pace and not experience the hype and fear that these big (somewhat meaningless) tests create.
I’ll be excited when the week is over.