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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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I took the AP Latin Literature exam last year and received four college credits for it. It would be an absolute shame to remove this option. The Metamorphoses and Catullus were such wonderful works of literature, I'm so glad I read them. While the Aeneid is a classic, I don't think it offers quite the practice in scansion, nor does it offer the broad cultural knowledge given by the Literature program. I will be very upset if the program is removed.
As a current student of AP Latin Literature, and one who is planning on taking the AP exam, I cannot imagine the college board not offering it as an option. My class has been exposed to some of the most brilliant, touching, and humorous ancient poetry as a result of the curriculum. Taking it away would be a detriment to the education of the many who enjoy Latin literature, and I sincerely hope that the college board will reconsider its decision.

Claire Henry
Owen J. Roberts High School
Pottstown, Pennsylvania
Although I absolutely love teaching the AP Vergil curriculum, I am distressed about this change. While I know that the French curriculum has received the same blow, their literature has not been reduced as ours has. I have developed my own program to allow most students to take the Vergil AP, but a few wish to double up senior year and take both, or take the Vergil junior year and hope for the Lit. exam senior year. Many colleges will only accept one, though, so perhaps we should be looking also in that direction. When my students wish to take two APs, I advise them to check with their college to see what it accepts before committing the $85...

I am concerned that reducing to one exam will limit teachers and encourage them to focus on one author. Vergil is amazing, but there ARE other Latin authors...
Lindsay Howard
Grayson High School
Loganville, Georgia
As a long-time supporter of both AP Latin programs who also juggles AP with International Baccalaureate Latin, both Higher Level and Standard Level, I am saddened by the recent decision and see that it will ultimately make the IB more attractive to schools and teachers who value the breadth of perspectives offered by Livy, Juvenal and Tacitus, as well as those of Ovid, Catullus, Cicero and Horace. I know I enjoy teaching diverse writers and genres.
Jane Dunlap
George School
Newtown, PA
I am sharing below an email I received from my department chair and that she received from Adriana Melnyk of the Indiana Department of Education. This response from Dr. Marcia Wilbur states clearly and unequivocally that the decision was based on the small number of minority students taking the exam and the blow to the financial bottom line. Dr. Wilbur says, "Each of these courses represents the second of two AP courses within that discipline, but altogether these programs are providing fewer than 400 students with their sole AP experience, and less than five one-thousandth of one percent of minority students!" She goes on to say, "...it is our sincere desire to continue to offer as many AP world language courses as our bottom line will permit." I am not sure how this squares with the response Ginny received that the issue was primarily one of psychometric validity.

Dr. Wilbur also states regarding the discontinued exams that they will "require a net financial investment of $25 million across the next five years." Has anyone seen AP publish its financials? On what, exactly, is this $25 million spent?

The one ray of hope in all this is that they are planning to revise the one remaining AP Latin exam to include more authors. Dr. Wilbur again, "It is the opinion of our World Languages Academic Advisory Committee that it will be better to embed a variety of literature in the one AP Latin course we will sustain, rather than having it focus solely on Vergil. Accordingly, we plan to convene in early fall 2008 a college faculty colloquium comprised of professors from fifty of the top classics and language departments nationwide to advise us on how we can make the remaining AP Latin program the best possible capstone experience for secondary school students seeking credit, placement, and further Latin studies in higher education."

While I happily acknowledge that our collegiate-level colleagues know what they want to see in the Latin students they receive and that it is the universities who will be awarding the credit, I find the exclusion of secondary teachers from this colloquium to be an insult, though not a surprising one at this point. Apparently, secondary magistri magistraeque are not to reason why, but merely shut up and do as we are told.

Dr. Wilbur's full letter appears below.

Steve Perkins
Indianapolis, IN

May 9, 2008

4646 40th St NW
Suite 310
Washington, DC 20016-1859

Dear Dr. Edwards,

Thank you for your time to write to the College Board regarding our need to discontinue AP French Literature, AP Latin Literature, and possibly AP Italian Language & Culture. I’d like to take this opportunity to provide you with the most complete information possible. Because each of the subjects will result in a potentially different future state, I will also provide you with course specific information as relevant.

Discontinuation of 4 AP Courses
The College Board has announced that AP Computer Science AB, AP French Literature, and AP Latin Literature will be discontinued after the May 2009 exam administration, and partnerships will not be sought for extending those courses beyond that date. Each of these courses represents the second of two AP courses within that discipline, but altogether these programs are providing fewer than 400 students with their sole AP experience, and less than five one-thousandth of one percent of minority students! Yet they, along with Italian, require a net financial investment of $25 million across the next five years. Given the lack of educational funds in our country, the College Board feels strongly that we cannot best support world languages by continuing to invest $25 million in programs that only support 400 students uniquely. Instead we are discontinuing 4 AP subjects and are taking the associated investment, increasing by 50%, and providing much more focused and extensive investment in and support for the remaining AP world language and culture programs: German, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish Language, Spanish Literature, and French. We will not be considering any further discontinuations of AP world language and literature programs. This was a one-time decision made at a crucial juncture when we are making decisions to invest much more heavily in AP world language and culture programs than ever before.

AP Italian
The Board of Trustees of the College Board approved a significant initial investment to support AP Italian’s first three years. Unfortunately, the overall low levels of interest and participation among schools, teachers and students have made it necessary for the College Board to significantly exceed that investment just to sustain AP Italian up to now. The AP Italian Language and Culture course and exam represent a level of rigor and quality in curriculum and assessment design of which educators and the College Board are tremendously proud. Students participating in the AP Italian course enter college with impressive levels of proficiency in Italian and generate strong positive feedback from professors at institutions across the country, from Harvard to UCLA.

The College Board’s investment of resources, 400 percent higher than originally committed, demonstrates our passion for this program, but only allows us to offer AP Italian through the 2008-09 academic year. Therefore, the May 2009 AP Italian Language and Culture Exam will be the final offering of this program unless additional funding is secured. Between now and May 2009, our hope is that external partners will come forward to supplement the College Board’s investment. If this happens, we will be happy to announce a three-year extension of AP Italian through May 2012. In that time, we hope that advocates of AP Italian will be able to raise awareness and participation among students to the level of other programs, such as AP German. External support, similar to that provided for AP Chinese and AP Japanese, would enable the College Board to fund the conversion of the AP Italian exam administration and scoring model to the Web-based model employed by those subject areas, and would also enable the College Board to perform the necessary maintenance and support of the program. We will notify educators no later than May 1, 2009, if external support is forthcoming so that we can extend the AP Italian program into the three subsequent academic years (2009-2010, 2010-2011, and 2011-2012), after which an assessment of teacher and student participation would need to occur.

AP Latin Literature
We at the College Board value the study of Latin just as we value the study of other subjects ranging from Biology to German to Art History, for each of which we offer one, high-quality AP Examination. We want to provide the same level of support for Latin as we do for other AP subject areas, but this entails focusing our efforts on one rather than two separate AP Latin courses. It is the opinion of our World Languages Academic Advisory Committee that it will be better to embed a variety of literature in the one AP Latin course we will sustain, rather than having it focus solely on Vergil. Accordingly, we plan to convene in early fall 2008 a college faculty colloquium comprised of professors from fifty of the top classics and language departments nationwide to advise us on how we can make the remaining AP Latin program the best possible capstone experience for secondary school students seeking credit, placement, and further Latin studies in higher education. If you would be interested in attending an AP Latin Faculty Colloquium or would like to recommend colleagues who would be able to provide a depth of expertise on the matter, we would welcome such esteemed participation.

In summary, the two existing AP Latin courses will remain in place for the May 2009 exam. For May
2010, we will strive to offer an AP Latin Exam that provides teachers with an appropriate spectrum of
Latin texts, and as much choice as possible. If the development timeline does not allow us to have a modified AP Latin Exam ready for the May 2010 administration, we will only offer AP Latin Vergil in 2010 and offer the potentially changed AP Latin Exam in May 2011. Any and all changes will be announced well in advance, and we will make every effort to support AP Latin teachers in their efforts to deliver a new AP Latin Course.

AP French Literature
While we are disappointed to be announcing that next year is the final year of the AP French Literature program we are eager to focus our resources on efforts that will provide a much greater degree of support for all AP teachers than ever before. As we significantly scale up our support for AP world language and culture teachers, we cannot continue to offer two separate AP French courses and exams for the many reasons already stated in this letter. The large majority of students who take this course are by and large already served by other AP experiences. As part of the AP Course & Exam Review (see below) for AP French, we will be ensuring that AP French students read a variety of texts, including some authentic literature. AP German has continued to grow steadily, even since the discontinuation of AP German Literature.

Because AP Italian is new and has only had a short time to develop support in schools, our Board of Trustees will seek external financial support in order to maintain the course. But for the other three courses and exams being discontinued, regardless of the level of external financial support, our mission impact analyses did not allow us to recommend to the Executive Committee that we continue to invest organizational resources in maintenance and support of courses for which there was already a companion AP course and exam available in that same subject area.

AP Spanish Literature serves a significantly larger and more diverse group of students than the groups served by the discontinued subjects—there are more AP Spanish Literature students than in all the discontinued subjects combined. For many underserved students, AP Spanish Literature is the only AP experience that provides them with a rigorous preparation for college success. For this reason, there are not plans to discontinue AP Spanish Literature.

We agree 100% with your organization that AP world language courses are vital to the development and maintenance of long-term, articulated language programs so that as many students as possible have the opportunity to reach an advanced level of language study prior to college admission. For this reason, we recently supported the creation of AP Chinese, AP Japanese, and AP Italian. While expect to sustain yearly losses in the offering of these courses (in addition to sustained losses on AP Latin and AP German), it is our sincere desire to continue to offer as many AP world language courses as our bottom line will permit. As a not-for-profit membership organization, the College Board is committed to supporting schools in their work to provide high-quality, college-level AP course work to their students. To accomplish this work, we must allocate resources appropriately so that AP teachers and students are supported in the most meaningful, effective, and wide-reaching ways. For the suite of AP world language courses, this generally means offering one capstone AP experience. To that end, we have been spending the past two years engaging in the AP World Language & Literature Course & Exam Review.

AP Course & Exam Review
All AP disciplines undergo periodic updates and changes. Because of the nature of the world language disciplines, we are making review of these subjects a priority. In partnership with colleges, universities, secondary schools, and disciplinary associations nationwide, the College Board is working to ensure that these programs maintain alignment with current advances and scholarship in their disciplines. The goals of the AP World Languages & Literature Course & Exam Review are: 1) to ensure that the suite of AP courses and exams align with the National Standards; and 2) to have assessments that are as parallel as is appropriate.

To achieve these goals, we have been working since fall 2006 with a number of AP World Language Commissioners—secondary and post-secondary faculty--who have contributed to the creation of AP world language and literature Curriculum Frameworks and corresponding Achievement Level Descriptors. We are deeply grateful for the many professional contributions that have added to the collective thinking about world language acquisition. The most exciting facet of the work is that the Curriculum Framework has been developed to serve across all of our AP world language offerings. We were able to come to consensus with 48 Commissioners across six languages on the appropriate knowledge, skills, and abilities that should be expected at the culmination of a capstone AP world language experience. In the revised courses, the three communication modes as well as the 5C’s will be prevalent. This has been ground-breaking work and the College Board is so pleased to be part of the national dialog surrounding world language education. The earliest roll-out of AP world language exam changes will be May, 2012.

As a result of the AP Course & Exam Review across the current AP suite of world language & literature offerings, the College Board is preparing to create more resources for teachers than ever before, as they work to prepare students for rigorous college-level work in high school. We will begin creating AP Vertical Team and Pre-AP resources for world language teachers immediately after the May 2008 Commission meetings, with the development of numerous new AP resources to follow immediately. language and culture programs in the following ways:

*Providing AP teachers with downloadable embedded assessments for measuring students’ knowledge, skills and abilities throughout the AP course, giving teachers much more information about students’ strengths and weaknesses before exam day.
*Providing AP teachers with downloadable curriculum modules so that they have college-level materials for delivering key concepts.
*Providing AP teachers with access to student AP Exam score reports online.
*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.

College Board staff have great personal affection for the four AP Exams that are being discontinued, primarily through our associations with the tremendous AP teachers and college faculty of those disciplines. While we and the AP community feel great disappointment now, we are hopeful that five years in the future, when teachers and students are receiving the benefits of our investment in their subject areas (remember that in three of the four AP subject areas, the elimination of the companion AP course is not reducing the overall financial investment in that subject area, and we are in fact increasing our investment in that subject area by 50 percent), they will agree that this was the right decision for their disciplines, and that the Pre-AP and AP resources we are providing for them will assist them in maintaining student enrollments. If you have ideas of ways the College Board could help teachers and schools during the discontinuation of these AP courses, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly.
Again, thank you so much for your care and concern about the AP world language courses. If you have additional comments, questions, or suggestions, I would be more than pleased to speak with you at your earliest convenience. Thank you, as well, for your every effort to support our national agenda of world language education for all students. We share in that passion.


Marcia Wilbur, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Curriculum & Content Development
Advanced Placement Program
Steve -

Thanks so much for posting this. It does provide a bit more information.

As for secondary school teacher participation in this planned colloquium of college professors - I've already raised with them the necessity of secondary school teacher involvement. What they'll do with that I don't know. However I think the letter you've posted indicates the door is already open for your involvement. Please have the higher up who received Marcia Wilbur's letter recommend you as someone who should attend!

The part about if a new exam is ready for 2010...once again completely disregards the time issue of teacher preparation and curricular planning. How is a teacher supposed to plan for 08-09 not knowing what curriculum he/she might be teaching for AP in 09-10?

All best,

Ronnie Ancona
What is more, I remember my own college experience featuring Latin courses on a par with the AP syllabi - Vergil vs. Latin Literature; what are colleges to make of some kind of course that melds the two together? And what is more, how are we to face the reduction of the already scanty Aeneid readings to a still smaller amount to admit the addition of other authors? Many are the times I have read a bit of the Aeneid in translation with my class, only to wish that it could have been added to the Latin readings. Are we to trim back still farther, leaving the students with a completely inadequate understanding and appreciation of Vergil? I can only hope that the "colloquium" proposed by the AP people will arrive at some sort of satisfactory answer to these and a myriad of other questions. Regardless, I am still left with the puzzle of what to do with those juniors who take AP Latin, and are then left with nothing (or at least nothing officially sanctioned) to pursue their senior year - as are many of us. May we find a satisfactory solution! (And it disturbs me how much I find myself using the word "satisfactory," rather than, for example, "desirable," these days when it comes to this situation....)
Copy of e-mail I sent to Trevor Packer and Marcia Wilbur of AP/College Board.
----- Original Message -----
From: Ronnie Ancona
To: Wilbur, Marcia ; Packer, Trevor
Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2008 8:03 AM
Subject: AP Latin

Dear Trevor and Marcia (if I may since we've corresponded in the past),

You and I have corresponded, Trevor, on the AP Latin issue already. Marcia, you and I have corresponded a bit in the past on AP matters. Since I am not writing from a Classics organization, but as a university professor who has been involved in AP one way or another for many years, I want to pass on a few additional candid comments.

There is a serious sense among Latin secondary school teachers because of the recently announced changes to Latin AP that the College Board does not adequately respect them or the job that they do in the classroom.

1. The announcement of a colloquium of university faculty to decide the future of AP Latin without inclusion of AP Latin teachers has disturbed both secondary school teachers and university faculty alike. Formal invitation to master Latin AP teachers is a must if this process is to have credibility and if it is to include information about how AP Latin is actually taught in the classroom.

2. The recent statement that a new exam might or might not be ready by 2010 (in a letter written to the Indiana Board of Education and then posted), while I'm sure intended as encouraging progress, is exactly what teachers do not need. How is a teacher who has to plan an articulated curriculum supposed to plan for next year (and here it is the end of May) when he/she doesn't know what those same students will take as AP the following year? You cannot imagine how this uncertainty is affecting teachers' interest in and confidence in the AP program and I can't imagine that is something you would find desirable. First teachers hear that Latin Literature is cancelled; then they find out that the Vergil year after next may not even be Vergil.

As you know, I have real problems with how this matter has been handled and especially with the decision to cut AP Latin Literature. Regardless, though, of the larger issues of one AP vs. two for Latin, what Latin AP(s) should include and so forth, the immediate concern should be for the students and teachers in the next two years. They absolutely must have a firm commitment as to what will (or won't) be available for AP Latin and an equally firm commitment that secondary school teachers will be part of the process of determining the future path for Latin AP.

I hope you take these comments in the spirit they are intended -- as suggestions for salvaging what I think is a very fragile relationship at the moment between AP and the teachers who make the program possible.

All best,


Ronnie Ancona
Professor of Classics
Hunter College and The Graduate Center, CUNY
Here is the reply I received (posted with permission).

----- Original Message -----
From: Packer, Trevor
To: rancona@hunter.cuny.edu ; Wilbur, Marcia
Cc: Monk, James
Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2008 2:18 PM
Subject: Re: AP Latin


Thanks for this note.

Re: the faculty colloquium. We never conduct faculty collqoquia without involving master AP teachers. Moreover, we are also running a Latin Teachers' Conference in November to seek feedback regarding whether we should continue to offer AP Latin: Vergil as is or modify that course and exam.

Re: finalization of that decision. We have two options. 1. Announce immediately that Latin: Vergil will be the course/exam available for the 2009-10 academic year. 2. Wait to make that decision until after the colloquium and AP Latin Teachers Conf in the fall. James Monk will be surveying the AP Latin teaching community within the coming weeks to help us decide which of those two options we should pursue. Our sense is that there is insufficient time to explore changes to that exam for 2010, but we will need the feedback from the teaching community to confirm that sense so that we can finalize the decision that no modifications will be made to Latin: Vergil for 2010.

All the best,

I too would hate to lose even more of the Aeneid. I understand that we lose by not having the Lat Lit, but does that mean we should take away from the Vergil? I think not. I'll be interested to hear what the college folks have in mind, after all the whole idea is to give the student advance placement in college. What would they like to see on the test? (And I'll throw-up IF they tell us oral latin! Nothing against it, just a sad replacement of the Lit and Vergil syllabae.)

Cary Riggs
Scholars Academy
Thomasville, GA
I have a question and I've been trying to find the answer at the AP site. WHO are the current 48 commissioners? Is there a Latin representative? And if it is a college level Latinist, does he/she really understand the 4 C's and how it pertains to secondary teaching? I'm not complaining, I'm just thinking, ya know?

There are some interesting possibilities here, actually. Think about this: "The goals of the AP World Languages & Literature Course & Exam Review are: 1) to ensure that the suite of AP courses and exams align with the National Standards; and 2) to have assessments that are as parallel as is appropriate."

I'm thinking...can we finally take that step forward and introduce a little oral Latin? I'm not talking about conversations, but more like what's in line in


This was something developed back in the 1980s with the development of the current certification test in Texas. Of course, it was never used. But let's face it--we're talking about VERGIL. How can we possibly teach this wonderful epic poem and not teach it outloud? I know most of us WOULD teach it outloud... but there are those who don't. I have received over the last few years many emails from teachers and students alike who KNOW their pronunciation is weak.

I have tried for years to get college colleagues to incorporate an oral proficiency test, such as what's above, for future teachers. While they are happy to use it as a guideline, there has been no interest at all in making it required, BECAUSE IT ISN'T REQUIRED ANYWHERE ELSE. It's been a Catch-22. (Don't get me started on my feelings about this.)

But here is a chance to incorporate a little oral Latin--APPROPRIATELY--and a chance for us to say HOW WE WANT THIS DONE.

Anyway.... I wish I knew who was among the magic 48....





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