APt For Changes


Photo by: Rhiannan Ruef

Mr. Falconer prepares his AP English 3 class for the AP test coming this May by reviewing essay examples from a past prompt.

Cam High students have mixed feelings in regards to the numerous changes to Advanced Placement (AP) classes and state curriculum in the recent and upcoming years.

College Board, the organization behind AP courses and the SAT test, has decided to update its AP curriculum to better align with the ongoing switch to Common Core. Several of the 37 AP classes offered were changed in the past couple of years, including the widely taken AP United States History exam and the AP Biology exam. Nine more are scheduled to be changed in the next three years.

According to many Cam High students, AP tests have become increasingly more difficult due to the noticeable and sudden changes to the overall tests and curriculum. “It’s a good thing that they’re changing the material and what they’re testing us on, but it’s kind of hard to practice right now because we don’t have the sample questions or any idea on what it’s going to be like,” said Avinash Nandakumar, sophomore.

In compliance with the new guidelines, AP U.S. History and AP World History now have curriculum that focuses on particular events and ideas instead of superficially covering a wide range of events. The lesser amounts of broad concepts and data allow students to focus more on the critical analysis and abstract thinking skills, which was the original intent of the changes.

Part of students’ concerns is how the emphasis on thinking skills, coupled with the increased focus on the writing portions, will affect grading. “I think the [updated] AP tests are more subjective, and it’s harder to judge them,” said Jonathan Chhang, junior. “The way a person writes can be likable to one person but unlikable to others.”

Although a freshman, Jacqueline Le has been well-exposed to the dynamics of Common Core through her Math 3 Honors class. “I think that this kind of switch is a good thing for all students because it makes us look at things from another angle,” said Le. “But it also can be negative in some ways such that several students are unable to reverse their style of thinking that they have grown up learning.”

While the changes have at times caused heated debate, Mrs. Shannon Klemann, Cam High AP Biology teacher, expressed optimistic views to the modified test that accompanied the new curriculum. “The new test changes have affected how I have to teach,” said Klemann. “Hands on experiments and interactive teaching styles have replaced the old style of lecturing. Fortunately, I believe that this will result in a better understanding of the subject and the test.”

Students are also worried about whether the changes will affect their AP scores, as evidenced by the drop in AP Chemistry scores last year. “I think that [we] will initially see a drop in test scores, because of the new curriculum, but I think that as time goes by students will see their test scores rise,” said Rahul Menon, sophomore.

The tests scheduled to change in the 2014-2015 school year are the AP U.S. History and AP Physics B exams, with AP European History and AP Art History expected to be modified next year.