How many AP classes should you take? You want to get into a “good” college, right? So you look for advice on how many AP classes you should take. You find the same advice everywhere. Take as many AP classes as you can handle! But how many AP classes is that, really? Let’s take that advice and analyze what they’re saying. Let’s do the math! (And it’s not AP Calculus. It’s basic arithmetic.)…
In an earlier post, I talked about how in Excellent Sheep, the Miseducation of the American Elite & The Way to a Meaningful Life, William Deresiewicz says “The purpose of life [has become] the accumulation of gold stars.” (Excellent Sheep, page 16) How does he relate that to education? How does it relate to high school? Can AP failure teach kids how to fail?…
After pointing out the many flaws of our current educational system, the makers of Most Likely to Succeed go in search of a new model for teaching, an alternative to memorizing facts and to regurgitate them on tests. To go even further, a school alternative that more closely matches up to tasks that students will have to be able to complete in their future jobs.
A large portion of the film is then spent profiling a select group of students at a High Tech High, which teaches primarily by having the students do independent projects in groups, or project based learning….
In my last post, I talked about how the documentary Most Likely to Succeed showed that the history of education led us to the practice of students memorizing enormous amounts of material.
Most Likely to Succeed uses AP history as an example of a course that requires memorizing an overwhelming number of facts. The way they described it matches up exactly with what my kids have experienced first hand. They are learning loads of facts, and they aren’t retaining it. I think both the book and the documentary cite an example of a school who gave a repeat AP history test to their students a few months after they finished the course. …
Back to school is now in full swing! If you haven’t already started, your kids have probably at least picked up their schedules. Or they might be frantically trying to finish their summer projects. In the last week, I’ve heard so many parents mention that they’re dreading the start of the school year. I think the parents might even be dreading it more than the kids!
Are you dreading the school year busyness? (Yes, I looked it up. That’s really a word. “Business” doesn’t mean the same thing that it used to, and so now there is also “busyness.”) Are you dreading the calendar running your life? The hours of homework? The school activities with early morning and late night practice? The lack of sleep?
It might be time to take a good look at why your kids, or you, have signed up for all the activities and advanced classes that are taking up all your time and then some….
School used to be so easy. Take the hardest classes possible. Do your best. Success will follow.
But have high schools (and the college boards who wrote up the advanced placement curriculum) succeeded in making advanced placement classes so challenging that a student can’t do it all? Or are they just leading to teen stress and anxiety with little to no affect on life-long success?…
As I’ve outlined in my previous posts, I’ve been pondering how to guide our kids to the best path of success, starting in high school by analyzing success factors. One answer might be that you try to move into a school district according to the high school ratings. Our school ranks well in U.S. News 2014 Best High Schools Rankings, but what does this mean?
I started thinking about this when we noticed that high school kids at our school seemed to have over-whelming schedules and then noted our own experiences with a full schedules of preAP and AP classes.
In my last post, I gave a quick rundown of my take on The Smartest Kids in the World: and how they got that way, by Amanda Ripley.
What I took from that was that was that based on the studies of Finland and Poland’s educational systems, stress, test, and retest might not be necessary for success. And South Korea’s school system shows that a high stress and test environment has some definite drawbacks.
So I was surprised that when I started reading Amanda Ripley’s blog, I kept running into statistics that used AP tests as a measure of whether of a high school was an academic success. She seems to agree with using AP tests as a way to determine school ratings….
For lots of reasons that I went over in some of my previous posts, we started questioning if our kid should be taking a full load of AP classes starting with this first post. We were wondering if a success factor in high school was taking a full AP load. So I continued asking more questions about AP classes and class rank at our school. Here are some of the things I learned.
Like a lot of schools, our students have essentially two GPAs.
The first is a straight GPA. Just an average of all your grades in all your classes.
Then they have another adjusted GPA that is used for their class rank, and they get extra points for preAP and AP classes. This means that even if you make a lower grade in a preAP or AP class, the grade used to compute you average is likely to be higher than you could possibly get in a ‘regular’ class. This makes sense, since it seems to avoid penalizing kids for taking harder classes. We’ll call their adjusted GPA, using this extra bump for harder classes, their class rank average.…
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….
So after deciding that we thought the full advanced placement courses class load was a treadmill to no-where that was increasing in speed, we started out with recommending our kids take partial AP loads. But, we found that our kids weren’t getting as much out of their classes. Maybe the path the school was recommending for top students – a full AP load – was the right one after all.
The problem is that the standard advice – given by all high schools – is to take as many preAP/AP courses as you possibly can. This means that most of the serious students are in the preAP/AP classes….