Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The College Board Focus Group in Austin

My one day trip to Austin as part of an Independent Schools Focus Group for the Southwestern Region was interesting. There were people representing the Oakridge School in Arlington Texas, Cathedral Episcopal School in Little Rock, Arkansas, St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Austin, Texas, St. Stephen's Episcopal School in Austin, Texas, and Alburquerque Academy in Alburquerque, New Mexico. Our task was to help the College Board brainstorm answers as to how the College Board could help meet Independent School needs regarding College Board tests, teacher training, administration of tests and global education of College Board philosophy and benefits. This year is the 50th anniversary of the AP Program. Last year, the AP program saw its largest increase in AP Independent school participation.

Practical things I learned: Draft of AP Course Audit: Teachers and administrators will complete it. It has a section for requirements and a section for recomendations. The Instructional Planning Report: Results of tests taken by 5 students or more comes with a feedback report of areas of instructional strenght and areas of improvement to AP teachers. The PSAT has an AP Potential Report. There were other things I discovered about fees and test administration, but I need to discuss them with the administrator of these tests to find out what we do in those areas.

What did we do?
After introductions and brief statements about our school's population and our personal experience, we looked over College Board materials. Then, we discussed AP and other data related to the different states represented as well as National statistics. We spent a great deal of time giving feedback based on our personal experience with the College Board work. After identifying global areas of need and possible solutions, we headed back to our respectives schools. I am looking forward to the official report. Meanwhile, I still wonder what is the equivalent of the College Board in Japan?

From this meeting I have the following suggestion for my students:
AP course what does it mean? = Survey course at the college level. 1-2 in an AP is better than no AP at all. There are fee weavers for tests and they also apply for some college application fee weavers. They should ask their AP and college advisors to see if they qualify or they should visit the College Board website and read it carefully.

In the I can not believe I did not know area (I am sure my school does, but I did not):
There are now Pre-AP initiatives. The College Board has professional development I have not attended. My professional training has been from AP readers and consultants, but independent from the College Board. On College Board trainings, they do not only focus on the course, but also on the benefits of the exam results for instructional purposes as well and the relationships with other Collage Board initiatives. I now know better.

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