Wednesday, March 28, 2007

To offer an AP course or not....that is the question

AP courses can vary in the level of content material and how it is taught at the high school level. In the past decade, the number of high school students taking AP courses has grown exponentially that there is questioning on if it rigorous enough to meet college standards. As a result, teachers teaching AP courses need to submit their syllabus and course information to the College Board, who administers the exams on a yearly basis to students that hope that they can gain college credit before they go off to higher education.

When I was in high school, I took one of the AP exams and it was tough. I felt that I was not ready to take the rigorous AP Biology exam. I did not think that anyone in the class was fully prepared to meet the demands of the test. Even though I took the course, that does not mean that I automatically get college credit unless I got a certain score on the test.

As admissions into higher education becomes more competitive, AP courses may offer information that the student might be ready for college. But this is not always the case. I think that AP courses need to meet standards that are relatively similar to a college level course.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Elimination of Texas' traditional exit exams

While I was in a Texas high school, I had to take an exit-exam during my sophomore year in order to receive a diploma. Recently, a change in the exit-exam has been issued in which 12 end-of-course exams would be administrated in the core subject areas (science, math, English, and social studies). Students have to get a cumulative score of 840 on all 12 exams in order to get a high school diploma. These tests would be given online which would mean that it would take several days to administer the tests. Also, these tests would have students to take end-of-course exams during all four years of high school.

These are the end-of-course exams that students would need to pass in order to get a high school diploma in Texas.

English: English I, English II, English III

•Math: algebra I, geometry, algebra II

Science: biology, chemistry, physics

Social Studies: world geography, world history, U.S. history

By looking at this listing of test areas, not many students would be able to take the physics test unless there are differential levels of physics in a high school. Also, not every student learns at the same level or pace. So, this means that each of these tests would have to be at different levels. Or, will there be only one test given to each student?

Evolution in schools

Teaching evolution in schools is a touchy issue. What is the correct way of teaching it? This is a very tough question to answer. The Oregon education standards require the teaching of evolution in schools. This means that if I end up teaching a unit on evolution, I cannot avoid it 100%. However, science educators need to come up with ways of teaching the controversial topic without getting too many students and parents upset. In a recent article from the Oregonian, a new teacher went the wrong way of teaching the curriculum over evolution, which ultimately cost his job. It is important for an educator to learn and understand the culture of the community before he/she teaches about evolution.

Cheating & NCLB Act

I read an article about how high-stakes testing can promote people to cheat. Cheating on tests has been a fact of life. However, what is amazing is that it is the teachers that are doing the cheating. Sometimes the teacher would copy some of the questions from a previous year's state test and distribute to their students. These questions end up being passed from teacher to teacher. When it comes to testing day, the questions are usually relatively similar to the copied questions. In my opinion, this is wrong. As an educator, we are suppose to be teaching our students about ethics and moral values. This act of cheating illustrates that it is alright to ignore ethical values in order to do well. Cheating does not get a person to succeed in life. Sure, it may help one's test score to increase but the person would not truly know the information. The main result of cheating is that it would eventually catch up with you. This is exactly what is occurring with the teachers that copy test questions and distribute them as a worksheet to their students and fellow colleagues.