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Andrew Reinhard posted an idea about creating an alternative to the AP, perhaps something under the auspices of the ACL. I am curious what others would think of this idea and how we could get it going. College Board seems to have a monopoly at the moment on academic testing, which is allowing it operate in a capricious way. There should be no reason it is the only game in town.

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The key would be to get both the ACL and the APA on board, so that Departments of Classics would endorse the exam and offer incoming students credit/placement. I don't know if credit decision are now made by academic departments or admissions offices, but part of the reason for the audit was post-secondary suspicion about the quality of AP courses.
If ACL/APA were to come up with an alternative to the College Board, would it be able to come up with something that would carry the same gravitas and value in the eyes of colleges and universities (and parents!) as an AP test? The College Board has created a national uniform system for students to take "accelerated" level courses/tests in order to gain college course credit. Most colleges and universities recognize this system as acceptable and as a result, award equivalent college credits to those students who pass the AP tests. Unfortunately, schools, teachers, parents and students alike, we have all bought into this as a “good thing.”

If colleges and universities were not to recognize AP scores as equivalent credit, then the College Board would not have its power that we have yielded to it. The true power lies with the colleges and universities - if we can devise another alternative which is viable and holds the same amount of respect as AP in the eyes of colleges and universities, and in effect, if that could trickle down to schools and parents, then we are onto something...

Part of the problem is that more selective schools WERE beginning not to recognize AP scores, or grant only advanced standing, but no credit, because they were losing tuition dollars with incoming students accelerating their programs of study. Or they might accept a 5, but not a 3 or a 4.
These are good points, and some of what Andrew and I had noted on the other post. I think credibility would come initially from the gravitas of the organizations involved in creating and administering the test, or at least giving their stamp of approval. I think of organizations like ACL, CAMWS, CANE, the Texas Classical Association, and JACT, just to name a few.

I have a call in to a friend of mine at Indiana University regarding the question that Laura raised as to who decides credit issues...individual departments or admissions offices. If it is individual departments, then the acceptance issue becomes much easier, since it would be easier to communicate with our own colleagues, many of whom would be part of the testing process. If admissions offices make this determination, then there would have to be more of a sales pitch, but one that could be helped as individual Classics departments petitioned their own university's admissions directors for acceptance of the new test.
I spent several years in a universitiy Classics department where students could place out of first-year Latin by taking a language exam, which was a lot of trouble for the department to administer. At the same time, they would have a lot of students take the test precisely because so many high schools in the state (Oklahoma) simply did not have the wherewithal (for whatever reasons) to offer the students an AP Latin course option.

I would guess that an alternative to the AP exam which colleges themselves could administer, perhaps something online under the auspices of ACL, would be a big boon to them - it would give them a standard they could appeal to and also participate in, while allowing them to accurately place students in an appropriate language class, and students coming from a high school Latin program that did not have AP would not be penalized because of the lack of an AP Latin course at their school.

Totally aside from AP credit and so on, there is no reason for a student with a good Latin background to have to do one or two semesters of college Latin when they really are ready for a third semester course and could demonstrate that readiness by means of an exam.

If an online exam were set up using something like Moodle, for example, colleges could "pick and choose" which components of the exam they wanted their students to demonstrate proficiency in for third-semester placement. If the components were broken up into: vocabulary, parsing, translation into English, translation into Latin, Latin composition, Latin dictation, Latin declamation, etc. etc. etc., then the faculty at different universities and colleges could assemble their own exam, utilizing the modular components of the available exam materials.
Laura, what a great idea! I was unaware of Moodle...in fact, I checked it out briefly just now. I like very much the idea that individual Classics departments could pick and choose what elements that wanted to award with credit. This allows both for standardization and individualization, two ideals that may have seem irreconcilable in the past.

Classics has led the way in the past in pedagogical and technological innovation, being one of the first disciplines to make huge text databases available to the public. This could benefit not only Classics, but other fields as well who do not want to be beholden to the monopoly of College Board.

Okay...anyone out there who is reading this...what is the next step?
I was really impressed by the many criticisms of the AP Exam format as it stands now, as surfaced in the very heavy traffic on the LatinTeach listserv as a result of the AP exam decision. There is a lot of great input to be culled from the comments people have been making there over the past week.

I'm guessing that a considerable number of people interested in this issue will be present at the CAMWS meeting - that might be a great place for high school and college faculty to discuss together, in person, what might be some productive steps.

One of the biggest challenges and best opportunities of a situation like this is that it provides a chance for high school and college faculty to collaborate on a project of mutual interest and importance!

I'm guessing this eClassics ning space could be a good place to collaborate and share ideas, since it is easy to have discussion here (and the discussions are directly addressed by links, so you can send a link to a specific discussion in an email, etc.) - plus you can upload documents here to share.

I'm not teaching Latin or Greek at this time, but I do teach related online courses at my university (mythology and folklore, etc.), and I have a great personal interest in the development of effective online testing methods. If there are specific discussions about using online technologies to administer a new test effectively and efficiently, I'll be glad to contribute my two cents' worth! :-)
I should clarify that this exam at my university was a PLACEMENT exam - not a credit exam.

That is a distinction of huge importance.

Personally, I really don't think high school students should be given college credit for any AP exams (college is college, and high school is high school) - but the need for placement exams, especially in language courses, is tremendously important.

I don't think you will win a fight to give high school students college credit with something other than an AP exam (and it's not as if universities are all that enthusiastic about dispensing credit for AP exams to begin with)... so, if you are looking for an exam to compete with the AP exam in terms of awarding college credit, I don't think you will get a lot of university faculty who will help in that fight.

But when it comes to valid, accurate, easy-to-administer PLACEMENT tests, then the colleges will be your friends indeed! Placement tests in language courses is a huge problem for universities and the AP exam is a very blunt instrument for that purpose. The AP exam returns a very narrow range of scores, and it doesn't cover the same wide array of Latin language competencies that might be covered in a college first-year Latin course. So, the AP exam does not serve as a very good placement test to begin with, which is why you could do a tremendous service by coming up with a much better, more flexible exam for that purpose.
I agree in great measure regarding placement exams vs credit exams. I think so much of the college experience is missed with credit exams. My niece took both AP Latin exams--enjoyed her Latin Lit class, but hated Vergil because the pace was breakneck. They never had time to discuss Dido's suicide, etc etc. But, she happily took her credits and went off to Cal Tech and is in computer sciences, I think. She's never read any more Latin I don't think. Frankly, I don't think she had time to simply ENJOY it.

Having the time to actually work on your Latin instead of RUSHING THROUGH IT would be terrific.

And if it were a PLACEMENT test as opposed to a credit by exam, I think it would be much easier for ACL/APA to be a part of.

I myself took the achievement test in high school, which I studied hard for and did decently on, but UTexas wouldn't/didn't accept it. They had their own placement test. But by that time I was just tested out. So I went around to the profs I knew from competition and got Bill Nethercut to let me into his 311 prose class. Right before I graduated someone noticed that I didn't have 506 & 507 Latin on my transcript and granted it on the spot. HA.

But my point is this: if we have students AND parents who are more interested in education than saving college dollars, we could probably do a placement exam. I think the credit exam is trickier.

And as for all that's being posted on Latinteach, well I can hardly keep up with it now. BUT I would love to see something a little more daring on a test--like, explaining what was going on in the passage in Latin--writing in Latin about the Latin. Certainly doable--I know Jeanne Newmann does this in her classes.

Ultimately here's the thing: If the test was about the quality of Latin and not the quantity read (like AP Vergil), then we could slow down to incorporate more whole language stuff into our courses. Might be interesting.

Mirabilissime auditu! Ginny, I couldn't agree with you more. The pace of the Vergil is indeed breakneck and beats the life out of both the poetry and the students. I saw a post at Latinteach where a woman who had been opposed to IB has now made the full conversion and is ready to do away with AP.

So, would parents support a placement exam rather than a credit exam? Or has AP already done too much corrosive damage, leaving families to expect college credit in high school as one of their God-given, unalienable rights?
When I took AP Latin back in high school (way back in the late 80's!), it was in a split-level Latin III/IV/AP class. The way my Latin teacher handled it was to spend two full years on the Vergil syllabus (back when it was just books I, II, IV and VI) - with one year being books I and II, and the other year being books IV and VI. She also began the year with Pliny, Ovid and other writers before we began working on the syllabus. I read the Vergil syllabus in the order of books IV, VI, I and II over those two years. I am SO glad that this is how my Latin teacher did it, because we took our time going through the material, so at the end of Latin III and having gone through 1/2 of the syllabus, most who continued their Latin studies took AP. It was because of this extended coverage that I truly began to appreciate the Latin language and epic poetry.

When I look at the Vergil syllabus now, I see that how my own Latin teacher covered the material will not work any longer. With students now having to cover additional lines in books X and XII, in addition to knowing the ENTIRE epic in English, splitting the syllabus over 2 years really won't work well. If I were a student now and had to go through all of this in ONE year, I don't think that I would have the same appreciation and love for Latin like I did when I did the Vergil syllabus in high school.
Not to sound like an alarmist, but I think the amount of control that outside forces, like the College Board, have over curricula (and therefore the intellectual development of our students) is dangerous. I agree completely that the one thing our students need the most is MORE exposure to Latin Literature (and maybe some secondary research, to get them prepared for college work). I like the idea of a nationally recognized (i.e. sanctioned by the professional Classics organizations) placement test. I was very fortunate to have taken both AP Lit and Vergil and am ever so grateful that my high school teacher offered both of them because of the broader Latin base I had when I entered college.

I think that it is possible for us to design a standardized curriculum and police ourselves (and students) through a placement exam that college departments would recognize. CAMWS is coming soon, that is a great place to start. I would say that we (if we're serious and if the College Board screws us) should have a full proposal ready by the APA/AIA meeting this coming January.




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