. "10. Uses, Misuses, and Unintended Consequences of AP and IB." Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2002.
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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools
Such misuses of AP and IB assessments are both educationally inappropriate and counter to the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (American Educational Research Association [AERA]/American Psychological Association [APA]/National Council on Measurement in Education [NCME], 1999). Moreover, neither the College Board nor the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) has to date provided sufficient guidance to counter many of these misuses. This section considers some of the unintended consequences of these practices.
Effects on Students
Making decisions about the effectiveness of teachers or the quality of their teaching primarily on the basis of AP or IB test scores may have unintended consequences for students. For example, if teachers are evaluated on the basis of AP or IB test results, they may discourage certain students from taking AP or IB courses because they believe those students will not perform well, or they may counsel students for whom they anticipate a low grade to skip the final examination. Such practices can deny students the opportunity to try an AP or IB course or to validate what they have learned in comparison with nationally or internationally established standards.
Effects on Teaching and Learning
Teachers who are evaluated on the basis of student test results are more likely to teach to the test than to teach what they deem important (see, for example, Koretz, 1988, 1996; Koretz, Linn, Dunbar, and Shepard, 1991; Linn, Graue, and Sanders, 1990; Shepard, 1990; Shepard and Cutts-Dougherty, 1991). The committee acknowledges that the nature of the AP and IB programs makes teaching to the test the norm; the test specifications are the curriculum (see Chapter 3, this volume). However, the committee does not believe the AP and IB tests reviewed for this study sampled broadly and deeply enough across the full range of content knowledge, conceptual understanding, processes, and skills valued in the respective disciplines to make teaching to the test an appropriate strategy for developing the level of conceptual understanding that should be the goal of advanced study.
Therefore, the panels and the committee view teaching to AP and IB tests as potentially interfering with teaching what is truly important for enhancing student learning. For example, the mathematics panel notes that the AP and IB examinations have overemphasized procedure and under-emphasized application and conceptual understanding. The chemistry panel also identifies a lack of contextual problems in the AP examinations. The biology and physics panels find that both the AP and IB assessments cover too much content, and the chemistry panel decries the lack of attention to