AP classes were created with the intent of replacing first-year college classes and allowing more advanced high school students to get ahead early. However, flaws in this system are exposed when classes that would be taught by professors with doctorate degrees in the subject (or at least graduate students working on it) are taught by high school teachers with no more than a bachelor’s degree.
In classes that require full understanding of a concept in order to do well, such as science or math, it is extremely frustrating for students when their teachers don’t know the reasoning behind what they are teaching. They don’t always have a deep enough background in the subject. They can know just enough to teach to the test. It’s not even a requirement for teachers to have their bachelor’s in the subject area they teach. This does not give the true college preparation to that AP classes promise. In order to prevent under-qualified teachers from teaching AP courses, there should be stricter regulations implemented.
One of the main differences between taking introductory college classes and an AP class is the level of education the teacher or professor has. Those teaching with a doctorate have a full understanding of the first-level content and are thus able to explain any questions the student may have.
A problem in some Timber Creek AP classes is that the teachers are not always able to answer questions students ask. According to student sampling, this is less of a problem in the English, History and Language departments, and more in Math and Science. They are confused because they don’t have a full understanding of the content or they have a foggy memory of the reasoning.
While it is highly unlikely that Timber Creek’s AP courses will be taught by professors with doctorates in the subject, a “quality control” can be implemented to assess the AP teachers. Timber Creek should implement a yearly assessment in which the teachers take a mock AP test. They should be able to score well above the requirements for a 5 with ease. This can help determine who should teach college level courses, and who should teach high school level courses.
Not all high school teachers are equipped to teach AP classes, and that’s okay. If the school’s teachers are not qualified to teach the class and cannot hire anyone that can teach it well, then they should not offer the course that year.
Another thing that separates AP teachers and college professors is the professor’s active engagement in their field, and the teachers’ lack thereof. Professors conduct research, advise graduates, and engage with fellows in their field. Their knowledge of the subject matter is fresh in their minds and they can teach basic understanding with ease.
However, for some AP teachers, it’s been more than 20 years since their last college class in their subject area. The district already requires AP teachers to take a summer course once every three years to refresh their teaching skills. However, the course does not cover new information in their field.
With more requirements put on AP teachers, such as a yearly exam and routine conferences in their subject areas, students who want to get ahead in their academic careers can get the training they need.