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May 18, 2011

Several AP curriculums to be redesigned

by Melodi Anahtar, Editor-in-Chief
College Board will implement curriculum revisions for several of its Advanced Placement (AP) classes over the next three years. By making these changes, the College Board hopes to give students a deeper understanding of the material and align the courses with modern teaching styles, according to College Board Executive Director of Communications Jennifer Topiel.

AP classes are available at schools around the world to give high school students the opportunity to take college level classes and receive college credit, which can be used to place out of introductory college classes. The classes that will be affected by the changes are: AP World History, AP French Language, AP German Language, AP Biology, AP Latin, AP Spanish Literature and AP U.S. History.

AP World History and AP Biology are two courses that are affected by College Board's curriculum restructuring. Melodi Anahtar
AP World History and AP Biology are two courses that are affected by College Board's curriculum restructuring.
One of College Board's main objectives is to deepen students' understanding of the material taught in class. "One major goal of the course redesign was to shift the instructional emphasis from breadth to depth of coverage in an attempt to help teachers cultivate in students a deep understanding of content and contexts," Topiel said.

Teachers have responded positively to the changes so far, according to Topiel. "The general public has not seen the changes, but we’ve had the opportunity to share the proposed changes with a large segment of teachers and college and university educators, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive," she said.

AP World History teacher Rondai Ravilious believes that the changes will be beneficial because the new curriculum gives teachers a better sense of what to teach. She thought it was difficult to get through the assigned course material in time for the May AP test while still allowing teachers to use individual teaching materials in their respective classes. "I really do think that it was difficult, it was a challenge to finish what we had to finish," she said. "I think this will help with our timing."

Although seven courses will ultimately be affected by the changes, College Board decided to stagger the implementation of these new programs due to resource constraints. "This was a matter of resources—the course and exam review process is quite comprehensive, requiring a significant investment of time and money," Topiel said.

Despite the changes, Topiel maintains that the level of difficulty on the final May AP exams will not change. However, there will be changes to the material on some of the exams to correlate with the material being taught in class. For example, AP French students will need to do more reading and synthesizing, according to AP French teacher Arlette Loomis. "The exam format will still have listening comprehension and reading completion, but there will be a combination," she said. "For example, there may be shorter readings but more challenging questions or more on integrating reading and listening."

Nobody knows what the revisions will yield, but Ravilious believes that the changes were needed and will be beneficial. "I think that all good courses should be revised on a yearly basis, which the APs are," Ravilious said. "So far I'm really pleased with what I've seen."

The dates of when the new curriculums will take effect are, and more information about each class specifically can be found here:
2011-2012: AP World History, AP French Language, AP German Language
2012-2013: AP Biology, AP Latin, AP Spanish Literature
2013-2014: AP U.S. History



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