Tag Archives: advanced placement exams

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3…

If you have a child in a K–12 classroom or are a teacher in a K–12 classroom, it’s testing season. If you have a child in college or teach college, it’s final exam season. It’s actually been testing season for quite awhile. The NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) exams were given from January 25 through March 12. Since then, schools have been giving state-mandated assessments, such as the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP). or the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program. Advanced Placement® exams (AP exams) run May 3–7 and 10–14, with late testing dates being May 19–21.And for some students there are high school exit exams, college entrance exams, physical fitness exams, etc.

Testing can serve a variety of purposes:

Learning—Although testing is usually thought of as a recap of what has been previously learned, it can actually be a learning experience itself. A well-conceived question can lead a student to recast what has been learned in a new light, perhaps by achieving a synthesis that could only come after everything else was done.

• Diagnosis—Reading clinicians and speech language pathologists, among others, use various testing tools to help understand students abilities and disabilities in order to make an appropriate plan

• Demonstrating Competency—When the reading clinician or speech language pathologist or other instructor has been successful in work with a student, a test can demonstrate that the goals have been achieved. In addition, sometimes you have to be proficient in A to go on to B, of necessity or because there’s a rule that says you must or because it’s necessary for your own or others’ safety that you have that skill down pat or for some other reason.

• Feedback and Placement—For the student moving to a new school environment or an adult returning to school, a singer joining an school ensemble and a child joining a sports team, a test can help to make decisions between French I and French 2, Algebra and Geometry, Tenor and Baritone, Pitcher and Outfielder.

• Gateway—There are gates in, like college entrance exams, and gates out, like high school exit exams.

• Assessment—Some tests are a certain percentage of a grade for a class, with weight only in that class.

• Accountability—Tests can be used to judge students’ learning and hold teachers, schools, and districts accountable.

With as many uses and styles as it has, testing is an area of some contention. For a greater understanding of some of the questions that have been raised about testing, read our article “Testing Issues.”



Obama’s Call to Higher Education

I have recently been reading a number of articles about our President’s new call to higher education, asking every American to pursue some form of education beyond high school. Which has led me to to some research on standardized testing and college placement exams. In the next few posts I would like to share some of what I have learned about these tests.
Advanced placement courses were introduced in 1955, in just over 100 schools nationwide, as a way for high school students to take more challenging classes that would prepare them for college. The advanced placement exams are now offered in over 15,000 schools across the U.S.. There are currently 34 advanced placement courses available including calculus, English, several foreign languages, physics, economics, biology, economics, and psychology. Each test currently costs about $86 but there are a number of grants available for low income students.
In order for the student to get credit for the AP course they must score at least a 3 out of 5 points. These scores may be reported to colleges to provide them with information about a students educational abilities. Most students who take AP courses take more than one and often take them in their junior and senior years of high school. It is proven that students who are encouraged to take AP courses and do well will continue on to college.
There have been some criticism about the AP testing and courses not being as fair, or as available, to lower income students, African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans.
College Boards have taken an interest in auditing and overseeing the AP courses to insure they are held to a higher standard than national standardized testing. These courses are designed to be more challenging, prepare students for college, and reward them for taking their education seriously.