Improvements, from A to P
Improvements, from A to PLiam Julian, Director, AP Instruction Communications
At last week’s Advanced Placement Annual Conference, Trevor Packer, who heads the College Board’s AP program, gave attendees an overview of upcoming developments in AP and then led a robust conversation about potential changes.
Packer began by noting the ways in which past suggestions from the AP community have impelled change. He pointed to the new AP Capstone Diploma Program, the development of formal Pre-AP courses, and the AP Mentoring Program for teachers as advances that were driven by recommendations from AP teachers and coordinators.
Packer went on to point out that the College Board now endorses college credit for the National Examinations in World Languages (NEWL) exams, in direct response to a call from the AP community. In 2017, the NEWL exams, which, like AP Exams, are scored on a 1-5 scale, will be available to assess proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing in Arabic, Korean, Portuguese, and Russian. Future NEWL exams will test students in Hindi, Persian, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu.
Another change coming to AP: starting with the 2017 exam administration, the AP Program will no longer use audiocassettes and CDs for AP world language and Music Theory Exams. Submission and audio responses will be 100 percent digital. Schools will be able to use computers with MP3 software, digital language labs, or handheld digital recorders — whichever works best for each school.
Packer also mentioned the College Board’s collaboration with Learning List, an independent instructional materials review service for schools and districts, to help ensure that the materials included on the example textbook lists for AP subjects are aligned to AP curriculum frameworks.
Perhaps the highlight of these update sessions was the discussion with attendees about what might be possible in the future. Packer sought feedback on several potential changes, such as modifying the College Board’s process for approving disabilities accommodations, instituting flexible testing dates and digital testing for AP Exams, and developing a set of full-year, online teacher and student supports for AP courses. The feedback from teachers and administrators will inform the ongoing work of the entire AP team. Keep an eye out for information about even more improvements to the AP Program in the coming months.