04 October 2012

Inspiration: AP Tests

I know, AP tests aren't fun like Angry Birds or Civilization 2, but when you mix the ideas together, I think it works. With traditional classes and credit, you either get credit for passing, or you don't because you failed. Credit is the same regardless of if you get a C or an A in the class. AP tests, however, grant college credit, the amount determined by the score. When I took the Spanish AP test the second time (let's not talk about the first), I got a 3 which gave me 12 college credits. Had I gotten a 5, I think it would've gone up to 18 college credits. That makes sense: your score reflects your knowledge, and you get more or fewer credits because of it.

Why doesn't school work this way? When I teach study hall classes, I see a lot of struggling with math. If a student doesn't comprehend a concept, the class moves along regardless. These students end up getting a poor grade for the entire class because they were forced to move along. But what if they could get a good grade on portions of the class? The next year, they could pick up where they left off, rather than just repeating the entire class. And rather than just giving a flat credit amount to all students that get a C or higher, they instead give a certain amount of credit depending on the amount of curriculum completed.

I can't create change on that level, but I can attempt to apply it to my own class. Rather than push everyone along at the same pace, offer a variety of assignments that they can choose to complete on their own time. It might create trouble for grading, and sometimes middle school students simply aren't self-motivated yet, but I could work around that by using the star values mentioned previously. Students would be required to complete a certain number of stars to get the points, but keep it low enough to be doable. Stay tuned for my plan to keep students motivated despite the seemingly low expectations.

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