Common Core affects Advanced Placement exams for high schoolers

Brittany Corona --- The Daily Signal 

As with much of K-12 education, Advanced Placement exams are affected by Common Core.

Certain AP courses are being redesigned to better match the Common Core standards. That raises questions about the reach of Common Core in disciplines beyond the original English and Math standards outlined and the standards’ influence on higher education.

The redesign of AP exams, such as AP U.S. History, is “one outgrowth” of the College Board’s effort to reform its curriculum and exams to reflect Common Core, argues Joy Pullmann in The Federalist.

The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) notes that:

The College Board is responding to the brewing changes of today’s Common Core era by revising the Advanced Placement program so that the focus is on fewer concepts and more depth…The College Board is removing extraneous details from the AP course requirements and making AP classes less about simple memorization and more about critical thinking and synthesizing information.

Notably, AASA writes that “the College Board may offer an AP Algebra course (although no plans are definite), which may supplant AP Calculus, particularly in schools rigidly adhering to Common Core standards.” Such a shift would seem to underscore the assessment of Stanford professor emeritus of mathematics James Milgram, who has stated that “in Common Core, mathematics stops with Algebra II.” Milgram warns:

Algebra II is absolutely minimal preparation, even to go to college. For example, one of the things they tout for Common Core is that it will improve the STEM pipeline. Well, the actual data is this: if you came to college with only an Algebra II background and you wanted to major in a STEM area, you have a 1/50 chance— a 2 percent chance— of ever obtaining a degree in STEM… This level of preparation is simply insufficient.

At the American Association of School Administrators’ 2013 national conference, College Board senior vice president Trevor Packer said that, through “a parallel process,” AP exams in history and science are adopting similar methodology to the Common Core. “The work that is happening in the Common Core will help students prepare for what they will encounter in these redesigned AP courses,” said Packer.

According to the College Board, “The redesigned AP U.S. History course emphasizes developing students’ ability to analyze historical texts and to support their written responses using valid reasoning and relevant evidence. This emphasis dovetails with the Common Core State Standards for reading and writing literacy in history.”

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