BY SASHEEN JOSEPH
When people think of the College Board, thoughts about the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or Advanced Placement (AP) classes usually follow. But an Urban Dictionary user defined the College Board as “[a creation to] ruin the lives of all high schoolers, especially in the United States of America.”
The funny thing is, both statements are arguably correct.
The College Board recently came out with new AP resources for the 2019-20 school year, one of which being AP Classroom, an instructional resource that divides AP classes into units and provides a multiple-choice bank teachers can assign to students through the website.
On the surface, this new resource seemed too good to be true. Studying tools made by the creators of said AP tests are often seen in the form of review books on a Barnes and Noble shelf. Thus, this free online resource that directly correlates to the AP curriculum being taught sounds incredibly efficient for students. In fact, teacher Emily Landers went so far as to calling AP Classroom “by far the coolest new roll-out from College Board” when it was first announced.
Fast forward to now, more than halfway through the school year, and yet AP Classroom hasn’t lived up to its expectations, nor has it been used in many AP classrooms.
On the surface, this new resource seemed too good to be true.
“When I attend my AP Lapses [a county-wide meeting where AP Language and Composition teachers can discuss teaching strategies], people don’t really care for AP Classroom because, on the teacher’s side, it’s not really user-friendly,” AP Language and Composition teacher Briana Bullard said. “It also doesn’t uphold validity in the scores of the students since the students can continue past the time limit, which doesn’t accurately reflect the environment of the AP test.”
It makes sense to wonder why this concept went so awry, but there are multiple factors that one can credit the downfall to. One reason is the validity and effectiveness of the practice questions that make up the bank.
Some questions were written exclusively for the bank, which causes many to believe that they originated from unreleased exams. This raises the concern that these questions are faulty, considering the fact that they were not used in actual exams. Furthermore, many questions in the bank seem to not match the rigor seen in an actual AP exam.
This is also seen with Khan Academy, which is a commonly advertised online resource for the SAT. Both resources have common issues, such as ineffective questions and the inability to practice practical strategies for the actual College Board tests.
“…people don’t really care for AP Classroom because, on the teacher’s side, it’s not really user-friendly.”AP Language and Composition teacher Briana Bullard
So, what is the point of students using this resource if it’s not going to actually challenge them?
Many like to argue that despite the skeptical validity of the questions, AP Classroom is still a good resource to drill questions relating to AP curriculums. But the way in which the resource is presented can also be a reason why it’s not being utilized.
While almost all AP exams have a physical multiple-choice section, every exam has some form of a free-response section. None of the AP exams offered by the College Board are conducted on the computer, thus the idea that their holy grail resource is computer-based doesn’t really simulate the real thing.
As May testing season quickly approaches, the usage of AP Classroom may see an increase. However, the general perception of this College Board resource is most likely not going to change. If the teacher isn’t going to assign it, AP students are definitely not going to rely on AP Classroom for their studying.
The College Board is better off sticking to the books.
Photo courtesy of the College Board