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.
Director of eLearning
As the part-time Latin teacher in a private school, I too need the flexibility of two AP Latin exams to use on alternate years for the last year as we have students of varying abilities in the final two years of instruction and transfers requiring a fifth year. Latin needs to be competitive with the modern foreign languages to attract students enrolling in the ninth grade or transferring in. If cost is an issue, the Latin Lit syllabus could be narrowed to one standard set of lines from several set authors therefore providing a variety of genres and authors, perhaps with a thematic link. Older Latin 4 books often included such variety and a new text could be produced to reflect the new format. A suggestion: Cicero: Catilinarian I (with rest in English), Ovid three selections from the Metamorphoses and three from the Amores, Catullus: the Lesbia poems or 64; Horace: a sample of the love poems. Many new comparison questions could be generated from such selections and would provide a wonderful glimpse of the great societal changes occurring between Cicero's attempts to hold onto the dying Republic and the birth of the Augustan age. When I taught in public school, I always had the students do the AP Vergil in preparation for the more sophisticated themes in the AP Lit course. We saw the "ideal Roman male and female" that Augustus wanted to exault and then the reality of his times in the next course. The choice of the AP board however reverses this order or leaves students knowing only the ideal and not the real. There has to be a reason why there are more films based on the Iliad and the Odyssey than on the Aeneid!
Surely there is a better option than offering ONLY AP Vergil! It is such a narrow syllabus, and though, like many, I love teaching BOTH syllabi, I think that they balance eachother both for teachers and for students. I support Rick LaFleur's suggestion of alternating the years, though I realize this does not solve the problem for every school.
Amy Leonard, Latin teacher
Grady High School
I'm a teacher at Polytechnic School in southern CA, and I'd like to see the CB reinstate the Latin Lit AP for 2009-10. Numbers have been increasing for the test, not falling, so it seems precipitous to cancel it before the CB knows when and at what level numbers will stabilize. It's frustrating that the CB is making this change when the Lit test is in the middle of becoming more popular rather than less.
I've been seriously considering getting certification in teaching Latin. Alas, I hoped to include the Latin Literature material in my curriculum, as it presents a greater authorial diversity to the students and makes upper level Latin more interesting. Public school curricula are forced to frame themselves around the AP exams, and it's therefore very disappointing that the College Board no longer supports gifting students with this broader exposure to Latin literature.
Mary Pendergraft posted the following two notices via the AP Latin discussion list (email@example.com). I am reproducing them here for your information:
July 4, 2008
I hope I can clarify where the AP Latin program stands today, and what the near future will bring.
In 2009, both exams (Vergil & Lit) will be offered.
In 2010 & 2011, the current Vergil will be offered.
Starting very soon, you'll be asked to respond to surveys about what you'd like to see for the course and the exam.
It's my understanding that a decision should be made by spring. That means that information should be available for discussion at ACL 2009, for instance.
Part of the decision will be how soon the new course should be made available. The goal will be to balance many things:
(1) schools who haven't offered Vergil so far will be faced with investing in textbooks and training, and it's not reasonable to expect them to do that and then discontinue the current Vergil very quickly.
(2) even schools who do offer Vergil will need lead time to prepare for the revised exam, unless the decision is to maintain the current exam.
It's clear, of course, that the survey will generate more ideas than can possibly be implemented, because some will be contradictory of one another. I'm confident that the Development Committee will weigh them all, though, and that confidence is based on my experience of working with committee members.
About the Faculty Colloquium, here's what I know:
The dates are Oct. 31- Nov. 2, and the location is Chicago.
The program will include presentations from both high school and college teachers who are familiar with the AP program.
Who will be invited isn't quite clear yet, although that decision ought to be made soon. The guests will include representatives from colleges & universities who receive many AP Latin scores, from those who train many Latin teachers, and others. As I understand it, the colloquium has at least two goals: to share more and more accurate information about the AP program with college & university faculty members, and to hear from them, in turn, about the AP curriculum can prepare students best for college-level work.
What's learned from the colloquium, like the survey results, will be part of the data used by the Development Committee in planning the revised exam.
As I learn more I'll be glad to pass on more information.
July 5, 2008 (replying to a comment from Barbara Boyd on the List)
Thank you for bringing up a point I had missed. You're absolutely right that the invitations need to go out soon, and the sooner the better.
The details of the guest list aren't clear to me, but I do know that Linda Gillison and I will have the opportunity to make suggestions. Not only APA & ACL but anyone who has a good suggestion is invited to contact one of us. While we aren't the deciders here, we can pass on names of individuals or of programs. It will be particularly helpful to have more than just a name, so let us know why you think Prof. ABC is a good person to have.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and Linda's is Linda.Gillison@mso.umt.edu and we'll look forward to hearing from you!
Although my high school doesn't offer AP Latin, I use the AP reading list to guide my curriculum. I alternate the course reading for the Latin III's and IV's, so that students interested in taking the AP tests have had a good reading background each year. This change means that the AP test will only be available to them every other year, when we've read Vergil. This is not fair to our students.
Laurie Lawless, Latin and Math Teacher
Dakota Ridge High School
Latin Literature was always more popular with my students than Vergil. I'll miss teaching Ovid and Catullus very much. It does not make sense to retain Vergil and scrap Catullus if the concern is with low numbers. If the College Board is going to do a complete teardown and rebuild of A.P. Latin, I can see a lot of positives with that, though.
Riverdale High School
My study of Latin in high school has been seminal to my studies in both my undergraduate and graduate careers--sometimes in explicit ways, at other times implicitly. I am indebted to my high school Latin teacher for my command of the English language as well as my ability to learn other languages with relative ease. It would be a shame for America to relinquish the opportunity for such edifying study at the AP level.
Melanie Murray Webb
Dr. Phillips High School, Orlando, FL
I offer Latin Literature in an alternating format with Vergil. I generally retain most of the juniors who take one course as seniors into the next, so I get a tremendous amount of feedback comparing the two courses. They all appreciate Vergil, as they have seen the adaptations of the Aeneid story in Latin I & II, but they truly love Catullus. His passions speak to them as if he were a living author, whereas Vergil requires a little more motivation on my behalf. It is unfortunate that this curriculum has to be eliminated.
I received this email from Carin Green of the University of Iowa (Chairman of CAMWS) regarding the latest news about AP Latin:
"This looks like the best news we could have ever expected from the College Board. Please read the attachment onto the second page. It is not precisely clear, but it would seem that there is going to be a single AP exam, but the authors and texts studied will vary from year to year after 2011.
"Please pass this on to the CAMWSians in your state. I will be grateful for any interpretations or feedback from the people most directly affected.
"And thank you all for the pressure, the unrelenting pressure, you have helped us put on the College Board. To move them at all is a real triumph.
From the College Board document she mentions in her email:
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, in fall 2008 we plan to convene a college faculty colloquium composed of professors from top classics 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 college. After the faculty colloquium, we will convene AP Latin teachers to discuss the needs of secondary Latin programs and recommendations for program sequencing during the AP Latin transition period.
In summary, the two existing AP Latin courses will remain in place for the May 2009 exam, and AP Latin:
Vergil will be the only AP Latin Exam in May 2010. No sooner than May 2011, we will strive to offer a capstone AP Latin Exam experience that provides teachers with an appropriate spectrum of Latin texts, and as much choice as possible. Any and all changes to the curriculum 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 program.
This is a shame. I took the AP Latin Exam (Catullus/Ovid) in 2007 and I got a 4 on the exam. I loved that year of Latin most, I think. It has been practically useful and has given me many tools to help me with my current major, English Education (though I am thinking of doubling up with Classics). I think Latin should be advocated in schools rather than eliminated. It's part of the foundation of Western civilization! In all of the classics of English literature, it helps to have learned about the particulars of mythology and the Trojan war, since those authors allude to it. Latin greatly prepared me for college, especially my dear Ovid and Catullus.
I attended the Illinois Classical Conference annual meeting at Augustana College on October 10-12, and sat in on the session that focused on the next-steps with saving or changing AP Latin Literature and how ICC/AMICI might be able to help. ICC President Alice Mulberry brought the group up to speed on where things currently are with AP. Most teachers attending the session did not know about the Nov. 1-2 meeting between the College Board and college Classics professors to be held at an undisclosed location in Chicago. Mulberry read from a recent letter that she received from Sherwin Little, President of ACL that discussed this pending meeting and that there would be a second meeting in mid-November, this time between the College Board and “authorized” AP Latin teachers.
Apparently, the College Board is inviting only authorized AP Latin teachers (those who have formal accreditation with AP) to attend and discuss more about what will happen to AP Latin. Several teachers voiced their concerns that many Latin teachers teach AP Latin (which they call honors Latin) to prepare their students for the AP test. These teachers are going to be excluded from these meetings because they are not AP-authorized teachers.
It was also brought to the group’s attention that there is currently no Latinist on the College Board’s World Languages Committee.
It was moved and seconded that the ICC and AMICI draft a joint resolution to send to the College Board in advance of the November meetings to call for a seat on the World Languages Committee and to have the future AP Latin courses alternate between Vergil one year and choice authors the next year. I believe that the resolution has been sent as of this writing.