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AP Latin Literature Cancelled -- Please Add Your Name


As many of you know, AP Latin Literature is being cancelled, although AP Vergil will remain in place for the immediate future. Please read the letter from the AP in the news section on the right and the letter from Ronnie Ancona in the Blog, and if you feel strongly about keeping the AP Latin Literature program alive and active in the United States, please add a comment to this post with your name and school affiliation attached. I will collect these in preparation for what is sure to be a counter-offensive by some of the leading lights in US Classics education. Thanks for adding your names to the list.

Andrew Reinhard
Director of eLearning
Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers

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This is a tragic decision made by the CollegeBoard. My school will have to re-organize its curriculum and course offerings to fit the elimination of the Lit course.
The AP Latin Literature program played a significant role in cultivating my love of Latin, especially of Roman poetry.Catullus and Horace remain two of my favorite poets of all time. And as a teacher now, I recognize what a core component it is of many high school Latin programs, and a springboard to Latin at the college level. I am deeply upset with the elimination of this AP course, and deeply concerned about the future of Latin programs across the country. I hope that the College Board will reconsider.

Alice McIntyre
Middle and Upper School Latin teacher
Garrison Forest School
Baltimore, MD
Having strong Latin programs at the high school level is vital for college classics programs. Eliminating the Latin Lit AP test weakens both high schools and college programs.

D. Lemieur
St. Joseph's University
Philadelphia, PA
This announcement from the College Board is deeply distressing to me personally. My entire program hinges on the offering of a cycle of four AP curricula. At this point, as many as half of the students who read Latin with me are enrolled in my school (not just my class) only because they want our extended advanced Latin program.

But the bigger issues have to do with the effects this decision will have on Latin study nationwide, at all levels. Despite the rapid growth in students taking Latin AP exams, despite the fact that we are steadily closing the gap between costs and income to College Board for this program, despite the lack of input from professionals, the College Board has pulled the rug from under our program. Vergil alone does not make a secondary Classics program. I anticipate the closure of programs that cannot support AP classes with a single year's cohort; migration of students to languages that can provide two AP credits; abandonment of AP by teachers who do not want to teach Vergil forever and ever. This appears to have been a decision made by people who count the heads that show up for the exam now, not by those who can determine what exam configuration has the best chance for long-term success for the College Board and the students it (theoretically) serves.

Karen Zeller
HomeSource academic resource center
Eugene, Oregon
Above and beyond the loss to our students, which many have commented on already, I can also add my personal dissappoinment. While I have been teaching Vergil now for the past five years, and am still in love with the work, I was getting to the point of considering a change to Latin Literature, both for my own pleasure and challenge and to shake up my students. Alas, now that opportunity is lost.

At $83 per test, I would be very curious to know just how much money they are "losing" on each test. Can it really outweigh the damage done by cancelling the test altogether?

Michael Arwe
Lowell High School
Lowell, MA
The cost effectiveness of the program may also take into consideration the number of dollars they must spend on paying readers and training them....
Richard Green
Bullis School
Potomac, Maryland
Regarding the proposed AP changes:
There has been a huge uproar on the Latin
teacher newsgroups about this decision. The numbers
of students taking the Latin literature exam are at
times higher than the Vergil AP and many schools
only offer the Latin literature AP. Students who
have taken both usually cite the Latin lit as more
enjoyable, and having more reference to their lives
Our issues with this "College Board" decision
ought not be limited to our our individual subject
areas. There are very serious issues raised by this
Schools like mine with deep curricula need to be
able to offer more than one AP exam in several
subject areas to properly serve our students. My
school on occasion has gifted students whose mastery
of Latin is demonstrated by
taking more than one of the Latin AP exams. These
students have been accepted at Penn, at Brown and
other top tier schools in good part because their
transcripts attest to a depth of preparation and
analytical control over the content material they have
mastered. I doubt if an entry no prerequisite AP
Psychology, Art History or Environmental Science is
an apt replacement for the second year of college
level work. (I mean no disrespect to those subjects,
but there is a difference considering that AP Latin is
reached in the 4th to 6th year of language study.
Although To address a red herring thrown out by
the "College Board": the AP Latin exams are not
difficult to structure or finance. Latin is a
language whose curricula has been tried and true for
2000 years. College Board implies that the courses
being cut are too expensive to run. Yet more students
have taken Latin AP exams every year. No tapes,
listening or speaking exercises are used in creating
the exams. No new materials are needed in terms of
material support for teachers and students; numerous
texts are currently
available in both the Latin lit and the Vergil
curricula with no modifications needed. Some books
and critical editions are recently published. The
teachers and professors who grade the exams in the
summers find out on the spot which questions they
will grade. There is no difficulty with two exams
there. Multiple choice sections are already shared
by the two Latin AP exams.

I hope that our administrators and organizations
which administrators belong to will raise a mighty
outcry about these abrupt, financially motivated,
educationally irresponsible and precipitous
changes. In the past the "college board" has
responded favorably to such pressure and discussion.

I feel that these decisions have unforeseen,
far-reaching and brutal consequences for American
education. It is clear that having China and Japan
pay for those AP exams reveals the callowness of the
College Board position. Their concern is only about
profit. this cannot be a defining goal in determining
the course of secondary education.
Throughout American history there has often been
debate concerning the goals of American education.
Education for skills, for values, for
character...but the debate has always been
undertaken by Americans. It is a mistake bordering
on folly to let foreign nations decide what the
educational priorities of our country will be.

American educators have always considered that a
primary goal must be the creation of an independent,
analytical, and ethical citizenry. Not a citizenry
whose educational goals and vision have been shaped
by the agendas of outsiders who would pay for the
development of testing.

The College Board must hear from voices it can heed.
Please do what you can to help.

Nina Barclay

The issue of contention, for me at least, is when good curriculum is
sacrificed to bad policy. AP Latin prescribes (or used to prescribe) a rigorous and well
designed curriculum. Now, it seems, Latin Lit is being
sacrificed for funding to increase online programs to help teach to the
test and for AP representatives to spend more time at colleges promoting
the credit for AP courses. These are two distinct issues.

Nina Barclay wrote above:

"No new materials are needed in terms of material support for teachers and students; numerous
texts are currently available in both the Latin lit and the Vergil curricula with no modifications needed."

Indeed. The excuse from AP that Latin Literature will be eliminated to devote more funding to online teacher help is bunk. There's no need for more online teacher resources. Additional resources would be a waste of time, money, and pdf download time. The point of an advanced Latin program is simple: Read Latin, take the test. If students actually know Latin, they'll do fine. Knowledge of Latin should not be able to be faked through practice with additional resources which only promote teaching to the test and mastering strategies and rubrics instead of learning the language and reading the texts.

The letter from the AP Program promises to provide:

"downloadable embedded assessments for measuring students' knowledge"

If that isn't a bunch of edu-speak gobbletygoop, I don't know what is. "Measuring students' knowledge"? We call on kids to translate Latin in class! We give tests! That's how you measure knowledge! And what's an "embedded assessment" anyway? Maybe I sound like a luddite, but as a Classicist, there's something about doing it the old fashioned way that holds some appeal. Moreover, who of us has time to spend playing with these embedded assessments when the challenging curriculum demands that we devote all our class time to reading and reviewing the actual lines of Latin? I have a hard enough time getting through 2,000 lines of Vergil before May 12 and any extra time I might have is much better spent in the rewarding discussions such rich texts inspire than teaching to the test.

Moreover, Nina is right to insist that there are excellent texts available which provide more than everything teachers need to teach the courses. Teachers have been getting along fine without additional resources since the inception of the courses. Why AP central thinks we need more help now deserves some explanation.

Moving on, there might be some validity to AP's need for

"Convening college professors to raise awareness of the quality of AP world language and culture teachers and students and to enhance existing credit/placement policies"

If AP Central does not spend money to convince colleges that AP courses deserve credit, the AP program has no strength. But the posts from college professors in this forum prove that there is little doubt about the rigor and value of both AP Latin courses. So again, AP's point seems moot.

(Aside: I've heard that other AP classes face the problem of not receiving credit at many institutions, in particular AP Biology is rarely accepted as a substitute for the first Biology course for majors and pre-med students. AP US History is not always regarded well either, though that may have something to do with its de-emphasis on military history, but I'll not grind that axe here.)

It would be interesting to know which colleges accept AP Latin for credit and which simply allow students to take higher level courses in their first year. Can students with high scores on both tests finish the major early and more easily take a double-major? If AP Latin does little more than impress admissions deans and let students enroll in 300 level courses in their first year, then there might not be any need for the AP Program beyond attracting students to the discipline. And that's something we might be able accomplish without the AP.

Suddenly the idea of boycotting AP and creating an independent test, perhaps through ACL, seems very appealing. Perhaps calling it "Positus Provectus"?

Finally, Nina's concluding point that the:

"primary goal must be the creation of an independent,
analytical, and ethical citizenry. Not a citizenry
whose educational goals and vision have been shaped
by the agendas of outsiders who would pay for the
development of testing."

is right to the heart of the matter. 25 years after the Nation At Risk report, in an era of an inefficacious No Child Left Behind program, the last thing American educators ought to be doing is eliminating rigorous courses that promote knowledge of our Western heritage, sensitivity to the truths of humanity, and the sense of accomplishment from much time and effort devoted to sheer edification. Bad form, AP.

Tim Smith
Classics Teacher
Ridgeview Classical Schools
Fort Collins, CO
Jennifer Jordt
Latin teacher
Victor J. Andrew High School
Tinley Park, IL
My sorrow at losing this most valuable course for adolescents manifested itself in AP class today. I shared the reason for my melancholy with my students, who were aghast. They simply could not comprehend that their younger siblings would be deprived of the the exciting scope of ideas they have been exposed to in the Catullus-Horace syllabus. They confided that although they had enjoyed reading the Aeneid for half of the previous year (non-AP), they would have found reading it from September-June a CHORE. The poems on the Catullus-Horace syllabus resonate with each one of them, certain poems for some, different poems for others. They even offered to put together a presentation, in person, to the College Board to compel it to reconsider! That is how strongly they disagree with the decision to cut Latin Literature!

My colleagues and I discussed today the possibility of not offering AP Latin to our students in the future, and substituting an honors seminar in its place. The question we attempted to answer: Why offer AP at all, if it fails to serve the needs and desires of our constituents? We couldn't find a compelling reason to do so.

Catherine Venturini
Ridgewood High School
Ridgewood, New Jersey
Someone else in a different forum suggested boycotting AP. I don't know whether we could make an impact; I don't know whether the general population will see us as standing up to what is in essense a corporate bully or as whiny Latin teachers who should be dead with our language (because they won't know better if they don't know what we have to offer!!!).

Here's what I'd like to ask you: will your adminstrators back you up in boycotting AP and just offering honors classes?

Ginny Lindzey
Dripping Springs H.S.
(south of) Austin, TX




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