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
I think it is a shame to rob students of an opportunity to read so many more formative authors as a part of AP training. At this point, the AP test will really become a matter of "punching a ticket", and not reading literature for the love of it.
Even I, who enjoy Vergil, am at the point right now in the year where we are just trudging through it, trying to finish the required lines, and trying to find enjoyment from the reading. Since only one of my AP class has even hinted that they might be a classics major next year, is it really fair to expect them to read one single book for an entire year? Eventually, for most of us, the joy is lost. It has become tedious even for me. We were excited about the prospect of reading a couple of different authors and exploring other topics.
I may seriously reconsider AP Latin as an option at all if the lit is truly removed from the curriculum.
Westborough High School
Remember, please, Taft in July of '05
You taught me about using 4'x8' showerboard for marker boards, and family rags for erasers (how many flannel nighties from 4 girls have erased Latin conjugations and declensions?)
They immediately became an essential element in my classes--each year my husband gets a new 4x8 and cuts it up on his table saw-=students seem to really enjoy using them
I attribute great "classroom management" to the marker boards (not to mention kids KNOWING tenses and declensions!)
The following letter was written by Ronnie Ancona in response to an urgent e-mail from Judy Hallett to the APA Board and some others (like Ronnie) involved in AP. Now posted on Latinteach and Classics list:
Thanks to Judy for calling this matter to your attention. I was truly stunned by this announcement. There seem to be three issues involved, (1) the announced change itself (2) the lack of professional consultation and (3) the lack of lead time for teachers, schools, and others involved in AP to prepare, should such a change be implemented.
The Latin Literature exam (in one form or another) has a very long and valued history in the AP curriculum. If I'm not mistaken (I would have to check back through my notes), this would be the first time in the AP program's history that only Vergil would be given. In fact in the olden days it was considered "more advanced" than Vergil. It was 5th year and Vergil was 4th. (Judy and I co-wrote a book chapter recently on Catullus in the secondary school curriculum that required me to do research on this at the ETS archives.) As Judy has pointed out, the Latin Literature curriculum (especially the Ovid option paired with the required Catullus) has generated lots of interest and excitement about studying Latin in recent years. Many schools only offer the Latin Literature AP, while others count on that as a second Latin AP along with Vergil.
If for economic reasons having two exams and programs is difficult, perhaps there might be a role for the Classics profession to raise or contribute money to help maintain the two exams. Or if there is to be only one exam, shouldn't Latinists be consulted in the profession at both the secondary school and college levels along with the Test Development Committee to determine what the content of that course could or should be? When the Cicero content was recently changed there was extensive polling of Latinists. Why with a major change like this was none of this done?
Leaving aside the pedagogical issues, the timing of this announcement is terrible for teachers, administrators, publishers, and others involved in AP. The local public school in the district where I live, for example, currently teaches AP Latin Literature in the 5th year and non-AP Vergil in the 4th. With no time for advanced planning is a teacher supposed to suddenly change that non-AP into an AP class with students who may not be ready? Or switch Vergil to 5th year and over this summer invent a new curriculum for her 4th year course? This is just one small example of the impact this might have. There are also schools that have invested extensive resources into textbook purchases and teacher training based on the present AP curriculum. What of the teacher who is taking a course this summer, perhaps with public school funding, specifically designed for AP Latin Literature preparation? Is this preparation to be good for only one year? (At Hunter College we just added some courses to our Latin teacher-training MA program specifically to help train teachers for AP authors.) What of textbooks that have been written with the AP audience specifically in mind? While changes do happen, the speed of this announcement may mean that even books that are still forthcoming may suddenly have a different and smaller anticipated audience. These are just a few items that quickly come to mind.
This issue affects colleges as well as secondary schools because it will have impact on what is and is not read at the secondary school level as well as whether schools choose to still offer AP Latin. The AP program is the only large and widely recognized program for advanced level Latin study at the secondary school level. Some teachers and schools may just stop participating,which would negatively affect students. Others may continue with just the Vergil, losing students who may not be as interested in that curriculum. This, in turn, will affect enro
In its transfer here from the blog the final part of my letter seems to have disappeared. (It's complete at the blog.) We will try to add it on directly. In the meantime, it should have concluded this way:
This, in turn, will affect enrollments in Latin at both the secondary and college levels.
I'd be very interested to hear the thoughts of others.
Interest and participation in the AP Latin Literature exam has grown steadily over the years and helped to revitalize and entich our curricula (this past year the numbers were up to ca. 3500, vs. ca. 4700 for the Vergil option); cancelling the exam now would be not only foolish and counter-intuitive (this 3500+-level of registrations will NOT miraculously migrate to the Vergil exam), but highly damaging. Limiting the Latin AP options will diminish the potential for AP classes; without the AP incentive, schools (read “administrators”) will be less inclined to support expanded/expanding Latin programs; schools that push for AP (a HUGE number across the U.S.) will compel teachers to teach Vergil every year–not in itself a bad thing, of course, but in the real world of high-school Latin teaching and limited numbers, combined Latin 3-4 classes are very common, and not having the Latin Lit exam option as incentive to offering in alternate years Catullus-Horace, Catullus-Ovid, Catullus-Cicero, will ultimately limit that Latin 3 class every year to Vergil and thus make combined 3-4 classes in some instances impossible, resulting in turn in reduced Latin 4 registrations/enrollments.
I know that this will ultimately and QUICKLY affect adversely, not just our P-12 teacher colleagues and their students, but also all of us in college teaching as well: high-school enrollments will drop, the number of years students take high-school Latin will drop, the range and variety of authors read at the advanced level will drop, and so the number and quality of freshmen coming to us with Latin will drop (at the University of Georgia it is not unusual that we have freshmen entering who have credit for not just one but BOTH Latin AP courses, and who comfortably move right into advanced courses here and become minors and majors in Latin).
This is a sad move on the part of the College Board. By limiting the possibility of taking both courses for AP credit this will surely result in the loss of interest/incentive in Latin at the high school level and may affect even the numbers at the college level. I really fear the results of this action. We can ill-afford this sort of retrograde decision.
Department of Classics
University of Kansas
I agree with the eloquent messages of my colleagues Ronnie Ancona and Rick La Fleur: the loss of this exam, the marvelously prepared Latin students that it attracts to our college classrooms, and the intellectual excitement that it creates for those teaching it, would be devastating for university level Latin study, both undergraduate and graduate.
The impact that this exam has enjoyed since it was reconfigured several years ago has been phenomenal:
plus uno maneat perenne saeclo!
Judith P Hallett, Professor of Classics, University of Maryland, College Park
I agree that reducing the AP Latin offerings to Vergil only will result in a loss of students taking Latin in high school and ultimately in college as well. AP courses are a draw to keep students in the language for more than two years, and in many programs it is necessary to combine Latin 3 and 4 levels as one AP class, alternating between AP Latin Literature one year and AP Vergil the next - an arrangement which will become obsolete through the discontinuation of the Literature exam. Many smaller programs will find it difficult to sustain numbers after this change.
Hamilton Southeastern High School
There isn't very much more I can say than has already been addressed by people here already, nor anything that carries more legitimacy. As a former AP Latin and Archaeology student, and a permanent "buff", I agree entirely that the AP Lit. course and exam are essential to a classics education, and want to do anything to help. Our school only offered the Literature course, and I can say from experience that students are being robbed enough by the availability of only one half of the AP offering, I can't imagine what would happen to cut out the only half that some have left.
ITT Technical Institute