AP classes and SAT scores can both be thought of as measurements of success factors for high school. But does one have an affect on the other?
As I mentioned my last post, we noticed a couple of things about our school district that indicated that our school was not preparing students as well as it could to take the SAT and the PSAT. So I started trying to figure out why. Not that I think the SAT is a perfect measure for learning, but it seemed like the level of achievement should at least stay the same.
At the risk of looking like a total nerd in the community :), I started talking to some other parents.
First, I found out that the private school had no advanced placement classes (AP) as part of their philosophy. (So maybe we should be springing for private school? But it’s unbelievably expensive. I still wondered… Until I found out that this exclusive academically advanced private school was recruiting volleyball players and giving them full scholarships. But, as I like to say, that’s a topic for another post…)
Then my sister, who’s on the faculty at a university, attended a lecture where she heard that National Merit Scholars read something like 100x more than their lower SAT scoring peers. (I can’t find a source to quote, but it was a ridiculously high number.)
This started setting off alarm bells in my head. I’ve mentioned before that our school started requiring unbelievably time-consuming summer projects for preAP/AP classes. And when we were first hit with them, the packet was accompanied by a research paper about how important recreational summer reading was, and how these projects would support that.
With the summer projects my kids had less time for summer reading. And, even though all our kids love to read – I mean to the extent that they get in trouble for reading instead of doing their chores – with the heavier AP loads, I had noticed that they were reading novels less.
So, personally we were seeing that taking a heavier AP load was having the result of less reading.
Which means that having a full load of preAP/AP classes might have a negative affect on SAT scores. Since SAT scores are supposed to measure vocabulary and reading comprehension as well, that would mean that AP classes could be affecting reading skills in a negative way.
Obviously, there are lots of kids going to demanding high schools, taking a full load of AP classes, and doing well on the SAT. But are they doing it the hard way?
In case you don’t make it down into the comments, Amanda Valentine of reads4tweens.com pointed out an interesting recent story on NPR that shows that teens are reading less than they did even 10 years ago, Why Aren’t Teens Reading Like They Used To?
Do you have teens? Are they reading a lot for pleasure? Why or why not?
Note: I found the original story of the study the NPR story is about, 4 Alarming Findings About Kids’ and Teens’ Reading. Unlike the NPR story which seems to be against ebooks, when you read the full article, the study does promote reading ebooks is an option. But while reading these articles I did have one further thought about why my own teen might be spending less time reading. For the last 5 years, the books he’s been assigned in school have been overwhelmingly depressing. For more of my thoughts on that, see my post about depressing assigned reading. As a result, I think he is starting to associate reading with feelings of anxiety and sadness, rather than thoughtfulness, fun, and adventure. Then when you look at the popular books made available to teens, a large percentage of them are “dark.” I’m not the only one who thinks that. For a good discussion, see the controversial article, Darkness Too Visible, by the children’s book critic Meghan Cox Gurdon, in the Wallstreet Journal. Thoughts?