I teach at a relatively high-performing school--at least, our students generally do well. For example, over 80% of last year's graduating class went on to a two-year or four-year school, if memory serves.
We offer a number of Advanced Placement courses and generally our students do quite well on AP tests. For those of you who don't know, these tests are created by the College Board and are seen by some to be an "outsider's" reflection on the rigor of our courses.
These courses are driven by the AP tests, for which the student might get college credits if he/she scores high enough. Accordingly, many of our AP teachers give their course final exam shortly before the AP tests, sort of as a warm-up for said tests.
Here's the issue that seemed to blow up this week, and today turned into a tempest in a teapot--AP tests are given at the end of April. By that time students have already taken their "final" exam as well as the AP test. But school continues until June 12th.
Earlier this year, and again earlier this week, our school administration put out the word that they expected AP students to be in class and learning. They may have achieved all the standards of the AP course and test, but they are still students in a public school and could still be participating in meaningful learning. Several of our AP teachers say that the course the student signed up for is complete, and it's entirely ok, after the college-level slogging that they've endured since last August, to relax now and watch videos, play cards, or pursue other recreational pursuits in class.
I certainly understand both sides of that argument, but I'm more receptive to the administration's argument. If I taught a class in which I could reasonably cover all the necessary standards with over a month to spare in the school year, I'd personally consider that month as a gift in which I could teach what I thought important or interesting in a way I thought best, unencumbered by any outside requirements. Talk about in-depth exploration of a topic, student presentations--no doubt the list could go on! Then again, though, that's what I might do, it's not what others would do--or what others are doing.
This week, a couple administrators started to make an issue out of AP students who weren't "engaged in meaningful instruction", and some of the AP teachers really got bent out of shape about this administrative hassling. Emails flew, discussions were had, meetings were held. And the outcome? Status quo.
Why the heck would the administrators make an issue of this if they didn't intend to see it through? As it turns out, all they did was tick off a bunch of teachers for absolutely no gain.