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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools
tion or portions thereof to college students who are completing the corresponding college course. The performance of the college students on the examination is compared with that of the AP students. When AP grades are set, the composite score cut points are established so that the lowest composite score for a grade of 5 is roughly equal to the average composite score of college students earning a grade of A. The lowest composite score for a grade of 4 is roughly equal to the average composite score for students with a grade of B. The average composite score of students receiving a grade of C is used to set the lowest AP grade of 3. Similar logic is used in setting the lowest composite score for a grade of 2 (Morgan and Ramist, 1998).
AP PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
What Is Known About the Preparation and Credentials of AP Teachers
Very little is known about the teaching experiences and preparation of teachers who are teaching AP courses. The College Board is currently conducting a survey of AP teachers with the goal of describing their characteristics and identifying teacher attributes that affect the success of students.12 Until the results of this study are available, information about the teachers involved with the AP program must be based on descriptions provided in program materials.
The College Board (CFAPP, 2001, p. 6) states, “AP is an enterprise that relies on a culture of dedication, volunteerism, and altruism among AP teachers.” The College Board (CFAPP, 2001, p. 2) estimates that there were approximately 100,000 teachers teaching AP classes in the United States during the 1999–2000 school year. Assigning teachers to AP courses is usually a school-level decision; the College Board does not certify teachers and has relatively little to say about the matter of teacher qualifications. School administrators attending an AP workshop reported that arbitrary assignment of teachers to AP courses is used only when absolutely necessary and that in many cases, teachers apply specifically to take an AP assignment (Burton, Bruschi, Kindig, and Courtney, 2000).
Professional Development Experiences of AP Teachers
Although the College Board does not require participation in AP professional development activities, each of the AP teacher’s guides encourages such participation. Stipends and travel support may come from local schools