The upcoming AP audit (January 2007) that will be asking teachers and Principals to sign off on certain criteria that their AP courses are fulfilling, is provoking a LOT of controversy amongst teachers. You can read more detail here;
I think that there is a fundamental problem with the audit in terms of the lab requirement. Imagine if you will, this scenario;
Teacher “A” is currently teaching an AP class that is producing great AP scores. For some reason (either through no fault of her own, or perhaps through a fundamental philosophical disagreement, or perhaps via any number of other possible reasons) she and her principal feel unable to sign off on her class as fulfilling the audit criteria. As a result her class is no longer designated “AP” on the transcript. Anyway, she decides to carry on teaching the class that she knows is “AP standard” and the kids continue to get stunning scores. What is the result? Is it?
1. Kids scoring 4′ and 5’s on the exam (that the CB describe as Well Qualified and Extremely Well Qualified) suddenly become UNqualified?
2. That actually the AP score itself is meaningless because in order for it to mean something we have to check if a kid has done an audited course?
3. That the transcript grades for audited AP classes (that have no standards applied on a daily basis or criteria applied to the grades generated) are more important than AP scores?
4. A combination of all of the above, or a whole bunch of other considerations?
To me, the AP scores ARE the audit!
I think that at the bottom of all of this the CB are wrestling with the problem of how to emphasize and include lab work as part of the AP assessment. The audit is certainly well-meaning in that respect, and it could be argued that it is a step in the right direction, but truthfully the ONLY way to ultimately fully examine lab work is to either have teacher assessed labs that form part of the AP grade, or to have a lab exam. The audit is really only a halfway house that is likely to have limited success. TIME spent doing labs in order to satisfy an audit is NOT the same as lab knowledge. Knowledge has to be examined. Both the lab exam and he teacher assessed lab work are ABSOLUTELY practical options that DO work extremely well in other countries with great success. Would it be a huge logistical task to get it off the ground? Most definitely, but it is the only true way to examine practical chemistry work at this level.