Trends in Advanced Placement: Increasing Supports for Students and Teachers

Increasing the available instructional supports for Advanced Placement (AP) teachers and students is one of the key themes that emerged from College Board’s AP Annual Conference 2017.  At the conference, the College Board announced that in 2019-20, it will roll out a new dashboard that enables AP teachers to create instructional materials tailored to their students’ individual needs. The dashboard will provide access to AP assignments, benchmark tests, unit guides, and related unit tests, as well as other materials to help teachers prepare their students for AP exams.

Learning List applauds the increased emphasis on supporting teachers in the College Board’s plan for new services. As our subscribers know, any material included on the College Board’s “Recommended List” must have been reviewed by Learning List. Our AP reviews consider how well each product is aligned to its respective course framework; the product’s instructional content and design, including supports for teachers; and the product’s technology specifications.  Taken together, our reviews provide a holistic view of a product that enables educators to understand whether a product will meet their students needs. [Read more…]

Supports for teachers are integral part of our reviews of all the products we review, including AP products. AP Products vary significantly in the number and types of supports they provide. Some AP products include few instructional resources; others provide multiple tools to enable teachers to customize instruction and tailor remediation in preparing students for AP exams. Below are examples of supports we have observed in the AP products we have reviewed.

  • An adaptive reading program that highlights important information in the text and presents practice questions at key points in the reading. Students toggle between reading and practice activities.  Based on results of practice questions, the adaptive reader highlights in yellow the information students need to revisit and highlights in green the content that they have mastered. The program generates reports that allow teachers and students to track progress, identify frequently missed questions, and highlight the AP topics and learning objectives that present challenges.
  • Self-paced modules that provide interactive learning experiences, videos, and animations that address the core content of particular AP courses. For example, resources for science courses include interactive learning experiences, videos, and animations that address the core content of each course framework, including big ideas, math skills, and data analysis. Resources include a pre-test, self-check quizzes, and a comprehensive post-test.
  • An adaptive test preparation program that provides self-study resources to help students prepare for AP exams. The program provides adaptive practice questions and practice tests that mirror the AP exam in timing and format. Practice questions help teachers and students identify areas of strength and weakness in order to better prepare for the AP exam. Practice tests are available online and in PDF formats. The program automatically scores multiple choice items; rubrics are provided for free response questions. Online reporting tools allow teachers and students to identify gaps in learning and individualize remediation and review.
  • A publisher of AP history courses provides an online tool for analyzing primary and secondary source documents. Teachers may choose from a library of sources that includes documents, images, maps, data, and historians’ arguments for each period of study. Teachers and students also may upload their own documents. The program guides students through the process of document analysis by posing critical thinking questions linked to AP’s Historical Thinking Skills.

While some publishers are already providing instructional supports for AP teachers, we anticipate that the College Board’s dashboard will be a wonderful addition to AP teachers’ toolkits to prepare students for the rigors of AP testing.

Learning List’s reviews are designed to help districts differentiate between products and identify the resources that are the best fit for their students. Because teacher supports are an area of distinction, our reviews, including reviews of AP materials, highlight the supports available in each material that enable teachers to tailor instruction to meet their students’ needs.  Learning List offers district- and campus-wide subscriptions, as well as AP-only subscriptions.

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