AP (Advanced Placement)

bmartin at utmem1.utmem.edu bmartin at utmem1.utmem.edu
Mon Dec 1 10:03:48 EST 1997

In article <34819804.60D7 at nospamsalk.edu>, forsburg at nospamsalk.edu wrote:

> Mary Ann wrote
> > > I cannot see that a tenth grade Biology Class offered as an AP or
> > honors
> > > class which adds to the grade point is substantively educational....
> When I was in high school (early 80s), AP classes were explicitly 
> intended to be the equivalent of first year college classes.  Not
> surprisingly, you had to be a senior to take them, and you had to
> have fulfilled prerequisites...ie, no AP Biology without regular
> Biology or Chemistry, etc.   Almost no one took AP Chemistry 
> because it was so excruciatingly difficult.  
> Now, 15 years later,  high school students want lab experience
> and tell me that they took AP everything, including Biology --  
> but no way do they  comprehend even the basics like the central dogma 
> (DNA->RNA->protein).  They've managed to hit the points on the exams,
> but it hasn't sunk in. And, frankly, they should NOT be exempted from
> undergraduate biology.  MaryAnn rightly points out that this is not
> "real" AP, but degenerates into a prestige issue for the school
> and the student.  Too bad.  
> What's scary is that basic principles haven't sunk in 
> in many undergraduates I see (I don't teach undergrads, but again,
> they want to get lab experience)--maybe because of premature AP?  
> And what's absolutely terrifying is that some of these bright 
> undergrads can't figure out powers of ten or scientific 

A contributing factor to this problem are standardized exams, even such as
the PSAT and SAT.  Too many high schools teach to the exam, not the
material.  The PSAT is used for the first step toward awarding Merit
Scholarships which schools use as a selling point.  

B. Martin

Aside: This problem will get worse if Clinton's plan for a national
standardized exam is successful.

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