>> performance on the AP test can only be considered a partial assesment of their mathematical competence, maturity and attainment. Equally important is how they perform in college classrooms around the country the following Fall.<<
It seems that the regretable idea (the only purpose of course W and test X is to prepare you for course Y and test Z) is not only prevalent at the HS level, but also at the college level. Give me ANY test and I can coach my students to do well on that test. To base your students' "learning" and your teaching on the AP scores they earn in May is misguided at best. Our challenge as teachers should be to improve understanding for our students, not to PREP them for a test. ANY test. Of course, real testing is significantly more difficult than the testing that is largely prevalent in education. The AP is a good (not great) test for the current agenda, but be careful that you don't give it too much credit. A good calculus course has *always* covered much more than ANY AP test has covered.
I will agree that AP performance is only a partial assesment. I will even grant that performance in college the next Fall is also a partial assesment. I would add, though, that together, they do not make up anything close to the whole picture. If the college course is as predictable as the AP, I would give the course as little credit as many college prof's seem to give the AP. Real learning, challenging thought, combinations of symbolic manipulation and creative original thought, and many more are difficult to create, but are the true tests of learning. If a student ever walks out of an evaluation able to say that every question was exactly as I expected has perhaps not taken a valid evaluation. The twist and the thought should always be there.
Chris Harrow Mathematics Department The Westminster Schools 1424 W Paces Ferry Road NW Atlanta, GA 30327 firstname.lastname@example.org