Monday, April 29, 2013

Homeschoolers and AP in the era of Common Core

After David Coleman left his post commanding Common Core through 45 states, he took a new position as the President of the College Board.  College Board controls the SAT and Advanced Placement (AP).   When Coleman took the position in the spring of 2012 he said in an interview with the New York Times,  "The College Board should consider any student in an AP class a student in our care.” Clearly, Coleman has plans for the AP and students who take the exams. 

Since that time, AP announced a redesign.

Trevor Packer, senior vice president of College Board, discusses how the Common Core standards will influence Advanced Placement curriculum.
"Well we are really excited that the Common Core standards asks teachers to do a few things very well.  And we've been making similar changes in AP through a parallel process - the redesign of AP science and history courses; that do the same thing.  They ask teachers to concentrate on a smaller amount of content  in much greater depth with a focus on skills that are going to last into college and careers."
Homeschool parents of children in high school often seek out coursework that uses the AP distinction because it is widely perceived as a symbol for excellence in education.

Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) offers its members a discount to the Patrick Henry College Preparatory Academy that advertises the AP distinction.
"Each course meets the College Board’s rigorous requirements for an official AP designation, fully preparing students for the related AP exam."
The Patrick Henry FAQ explains how a course earns the AP  designation?
Before an AP course is offered by a school, it must go through—and pass—a course audit.
“The AP Course Audit was created at the request of both secondary school and college members of the College Board... [to] provide AP teachers and administrators with clear guidelines on curricular and resource requirements that must be in place for AP courses.... [and] give colleges and universities confidence that [all] AP courses are designed to meet the same clearly articulated college-level criteria.... All schools wishing to label a course ‘AP’ must submit the subject-specific AP Course Audit form and the course syllabus for each teacher of that AP course.” (See this page for the reference and more information.) 
When you see “AP” in a course’s name, you know that the course conforms to a college-level curriculum standard. All PHC Prep Academy courses pass the AP course audit before they are taught to students.
College Board is very willing to accommodate homeschool students who want to take the AP  but all that glitters is not gold or in this case academically excellent. From the American Thinker blog,
Parents, beware!  Either a homeschooling parent will have taught any given subject with such a different focus that the student will have difficulty in taking the test, or the parent will find herself "teaching to the test" and depriving her child of the balanced information that is one of the hallmarks of a home-school education.
HSLDA disagrees and says that you can still use AP with a Christian worldview.   However, that was written in 2011 before David Coleman became President or their  pending AP redesign.  College Board requires all AP teachers to submit a new syllabus and audit form based on the new requirements.

Will College Board continue to approve syllabi that fails to align to Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, or the C3 Social Studies Standards?   Is it wise for a Christian to continue to seek their approval and validate the College Board/Coleman Standard of "excellence"? 

As a Christian homeschooler, I reject the notion that we submit our coursework to any board for approval, especially one under the direction of David Coleman and his affection for the UN and global education.    I don't mind losing the AP distinction if it means we remain free of secular influence in our education. AP and the College Board do not validate my children or their education.

"For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10

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