AP teachers everywhere were probably thrilled to hear about a new rollout of AP resources from College Board last academic year, and have probably been obsessively checking their email for news about their new AP binders coming soon. But many AP teachers may be overwhelmed by this information and curious as to how much or little this may affect their courses. Some of us have gotten our courses down to a science that works for us, while brand-new AP teachers may need some extra support with these resources.
Well no worries, because I’m here to help!
AP Psychology teachers at the Reading in Tampa this year were lucky enough to have these updates explained to us by the one and only Trevor Packer this past June, and I hope to convey his excitement about these upcoming new resources. So here they are!
👉 Check the Fiveable calendar for this week’s free live reviews in 15 AP subjects!
Updated Course & Exam Description (CEDs)
Most (35 out of the current 38) AP courses have been updated, although the extent to which the course has updated content changes by course. For most of us, the CED is replacing what used the be the “Acorn Book” you would receive at an APSI or download from your AP Central page. You can either download it from your account on AP Central now, or order a customizable binder, which will be delivered to you. We saw the binders at the Reading in Tampa and SPOILER ALERT: they look amazing and very user-friendly.
Now don’t be afraid that you’ll be completely overhauling your entire course! For instance, in my courses, European History’s content has not changed all that much while AP Psychology dropped some content that is now considered to be outdated due to research, bye hypnosis! Nothing really changes in the historical narrative, while science courses will probably be making an effort to bring your course’s content better in line with recent scientific thought. However, Euro got a new theme for grouping historical information (Technology), so check and see if the structure of your course has been tweaked. The best part of this re-articulation of our courses is that if something is not outlined in your course standards, then it is NOT on your exam!
Also included is a course sequence and a pacing guide, which is especially helpful for new AP teachers who may be overwhelmed by the scope of their courses. There’s an amazing visual representation of the suggested units, the content standards within those units, the skills to introduce during that unit, the suggested time spent on this material, and the weight of this material on the exam. You guys it’s IN COLOR, which makes a huge difference in Euro where we have seven different themes to keep up with! Based on my friends who have gotten their binders in the mail already, this comes in huge poster form for your classroom, which I will be laminating and posting behind my desk for easy reference!
While it’s a good idea to take a look to make sure that you’ll be teaching everything that’s tested, this does not mean you are locked into teaching in the units or pacing described in your CED. The most important thing Trevor said to us was: “if what you have been doing works for you, keep doing it!”.
So check out your new CED now at AP Central. Obviously, keep enjoying your well-earned summer break, but it may help to take a peek and carve out some time prior to the back-to-school season, depending on the changes you see to your course!
Note: I have heard that UPS is overwhelmed with the number of binder requests, and some teachers may not get their CED binder until later this Fall. So get your order in ASAP, but also download the digital copy in the meantime if you’re an eager beaver and want to get started on planning now!
Personal Progress Checks & Progress Dashboard
This is by far the coolest new roll-out from CB in my opinion. You will have access to both multiple-choice and free-response questions that you can assign to your students from an online platform. The questions are categorized according to your content standards and can be used to assess student’s understanding of your most recently-covered content. From your dashboard, you will select questions that mirror the content and skills that you have been focusing on, and assign them to your students digitally.
This will allow both you and your students to check for understanding and identify areas that need more attention. These questions will give you all the data you could possibly want on a student’s performance, and allow to you give individualized feedback, but in a streamlined way that maximizes your time. Students will also be able to see their progress from their dashboard, helping them to focus on their weaknesses, and personally guide their studying.
I can’t wait to try this out! I plan on using these questions as reviews prior to reading quizzes in Euro, so that I know what to focus on during in-class review sessions. I used to hate review days, because when you ask students what they would like to go over, they often cannot pinpoint precisely what they are struggling with, and go with the safe “Can you go over the entire chapter?”. By being able to pinpoint misunderstandings and gaps down to the standard, our time will be better utilized.
AP Question Bank
I know this has some AP teachers jumping for joy! One of the hardest parts of being an AP teacher is trying to make sure that your assessments accurately reflect what your students will see on your exam. We all use different strategies, from scouring the few released exams we have access to, purchasing questions banks from publishing companies, or trying to write our own questions in an AP style, it’s a stress-inducing part of our jobs I don’t think I’ve ever felt fully comfortable with.
So it comes as a huge relief and blessing to have a bank of questions coming from the College Board that we can use for our own assessments. We will have access to an online library of questions, again organized by content standards and skills, coming directly from the same people who write and develop questions for the exams in May. Some of these questions will even be brand new, written exclusively for these test banks, which leads me to believe that the majority of these questions are going to be from previously unreleased exams.
I want to add a little reminder here because sadly it needs repeating: please DO NOT make these questions available to your students outside of your classroom setting! When these questions are made available they quickly are put up on the internet on all sorts of study platforms, making them quickly ineffective for teachers to use in their classrooms. So please keep these new amazing resources viable for all teachers to use in the future, so we can avoid the always annoying issue of cheating. End of rant.
These new resources offer so many possibilities for your classrooms this next year. I cannot wait to see how different teachers use them in different ways. Keep in mind that you can integrate these resources into your classroom however it works best for you. Also, don’t be afraid that you aren’t doing it “right”. It’s going to take us all a while to figure this out, so make sure you join your subject’s Facebook group to hear and see how your fellow teachers are discovering and testing out these resources.
New resources go live on August 1st, so make sure your AP Coordinator has you in the system!