Teachers Adjust Curriculum to Fit Reduced AP Exams

Home COVID-19 Teachers Adjust Curriculum to Fit Reduced AP Exams

By CARLY ZHOU

Staff Writer

Teachers have been adjusting their curriculum to concentrate their focus on the select aspects and material that will be tested in response to the shortened AP exam.

The shortened AP exam takes into consideration the challenges and restrictions students and teachers face in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is now a 45 minute online test, a change from the usually three-hour-long in-person assessment.

“To be fair to all students, some of whom have lost more instructional time than others, “ said the College Board, in a statement on their website addressing the change, “the exam will only include topics and skills most AP teachers and students have already covered in class by early March.”

Teachers have responded to this change by introducing measures that would better prepare their students for the AP exam, with many choosing to focus on only the material that would be assessed.

“We have started to review at the spot where the AP said they were going to end, so I did change the curriculum,” AP Art History teacher Ms. Michelle Raitt said. The AP exam for Art History has been shortened to units 1-7, out of ten units, shortening the exam from 250 art pieces to 180.”

Teachers are taking different approaches with the curriculum that will no longer be tested with the reduced AP exam.

“I don’t think they’ll be reinserted in the final two weeks of school after the exams,” Ms. Susanne Fitzpatrick said, who teaches AP English Literature. “The curriculum elements that have been removed from any course were/are probably being removed in order to simplify the preparation process for the students”.

“In terms of AP Spanish Language, I am still teaching exactly what I would have with the regular exam,” said Ms. Genee Hansen.

A reduced AP exam is the first in recent years of UHS history.

“I have taught the AP Spanish language exam for almost three decades at 3 different high schools: Monrovia H.S., Beverly HIlls H.S. and UNI,’ Hansen said, “and I have never seen the College Board shorten the exam to  45 minutes. This is entirely new for me.”

On a broader outlook, a reduced AP exam has been implemented in the past, but for 2019-2020, this instance is novel for its national and international scale.

“[The College Board] ha[s] done the same type of truncated exam for students in situations of tornadoes, floods, fire zones, etc., just on a smaller scale with a limited population”, Fitzpatrick said.

Beyond the AP exam, the shift towards teaching on digital platforms is yet another way the COVID-19 epidemic has impacted students and teachers alike. Teachers helping prepare their students for the AP exam have had to more heavily rely on communication on digital platforms .

“Well I think that we’ve had to modify our expectations because so many teachers, so many students are not ready for online teaching,” said Raitt, “and it’s been a big handicap to have to go to the classroom to a computer in order to teach.”

Despite the difficulties faced with the pandemic affecting school, students and teachers have been working together to make the best of the situation.

“Right now, I hope that the impact will be that a whole group of students learns about the incredible strength they have to overcome challenges,” Fitzpatrick said, “and how lucky they are to have so many people – friends, family, teachers –  that they truly care about, and who care about them.”

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