Me and the College Board AP listserv

December 16, 2006

For all of those of you who have been asking as to why I have stopped posting on the AP listserv of late, firstly thanks for your kind words and secondly I have decided to unsubscribe (again!). I have found that the level of discourse has continued to degenerate over the past few months. Specifically I have increasingly found that (with respect) I learn precious little from the postings (with a few exceptions), and that the inability of some listers to answer posts in a civil manner has got to the point where it was beginning to bother me. That was the point that I had enough.

I know that I have some views that are out of sync with many listers, but I have ALWAYS been at great pains to stress that my way is just one of many valid ways to deliver the AP curriculum, and that I respect all situations and circumstances. Some people insist on “bashing” my teaching to the test approach and it finally got to the point where I had enough.

I feel it is the list’s loss, not mine.


  1. chemdog

    I agree, it is perplexing to me to find that so many AP teachers think somehow that it is somehow not all about the exam. If the colleges give credit based on the score, how is it that they justify somehow teaching what they “think” is a college course. The supposed college level course is only determined by the exam results. Usually there are a few weeks left after the exam for perhaps further investigations or enrichment material and experiences, but most of my kids are worn out from the other two or three AP exams they have taken and they have done their job for me so to speak. An interesting note from my first AP weeklong conference, of the 28 in the room, only 3 with chemsitry degrees sor backgrounds, the others all biology and just veteran teachers. Those woed “teaching to the test” really seem to set people off, as somehow here in the US they imply that people are actually reading and reciting actual test questions from the test the students will take. The nuance that “here is a list of testable objectives” or in the case of AP, “testable topics” and that you should be sure to cover them with specific insight as to how the college board asks questions and looks to grade answers; certain catch phrases, wording and expectations for correct answers seems somehow to be offensive. I have never gotten that. You sort of make a contract with your students. Here is some really rigorous, and eventually fun chemistry with a great chance for college credit in May. It just has never made sense to me how you can simply go in text book order, teaching only the problems from the book, doing frilly fun labs and call it AP. sorry fo the length but sometimes it is quite frustrating, and worse, hard to watch students you know who can get a 4 or 5 have to suffer and scramble on their own to muster a 3.

  2. webmaster

    Don’t worry, I’ve been called a Communist (literally) for preaching teaching to the test – somehow it’s seen as un-American. Check this out for more on the discussion;


    The bottom line is this. If the AP course is a good one (which with one or two exceptions I think it IS), and you are teaching to the test, by DEFINITION you are teaching a good high school course! That’s LOGIC!

    If I was asked to teach a course called “Advanced High School Chemistry” with no view to the exam, I would do pretty much do exactly what I am doing right now in AP!

  3. chemdog

    Somehow, teachers here think it is possible to teach to a test, and with it changing every year it is not possible. I have seen you teaching the British way, and pretty much agree. If you cover the topics in the acorn book thoroughly, your class will b3e “good” almost by definition. It is amazing how “teach to the test” gets people excited, when it is really what education is about, Tech them what you will test. I have found that some who take the other side, do not test what they teach, and often mke comments like, “they cannot handle AP questions.” That kills me. Have a good one.


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