My students’ AP Spanish Language exam scores were very good this year, even better than last year’s. However, I am not celebrating because of a document and subsequent conversation on the AP Spanish Language and Culture Community indicated that 85% of students who took the newly revised AP Spanish Language exam received a passing score (3 or above). Last year, with the old exam, the pass rate was 55%. Click HERE for access to the document. (You must be a member of or join the AP Spanish Language and Culture Community in order to access it.)
In further conversation regarding the document, a rationale from College Board was given for the jump in pass rate with the new exam. In essence, 3 reasons were given for the change.
1. The new exam better reflects what students are doing in class.
2. The new scoring system that allows more passing scores better reflects how universities place students in Spanish courses.
3. For students who have studied the language 4+ years, few should receive a 1 or 2 after so many years of study.
I personally think that the 85% pass rate is rather high, but that is partly because I teach heritage Spanish speakers, and I would like them to have more of a challenge on the exam. We are going to offer AP Spanish Literature in 2014-15, so that will help with the rigor. Approximately 60% of the total students taking the AP Spanish Language exam have outside experience with Spanish, which I think is a high number. I wish we could do with AP what IB does with language, which is to offer a standard level test and a higher level test. I know that is pie in the sky, but I think it would be nice.
Ultimately, however, I understand and begrudgingly accept the increased pass rate with the new exam. What greatly concerns me, however, is that I believe a good many AP Spanish teachers may be unaware of why the pass rate jumped. It would not be appropriate for teachers to compare last year’s pass rate with this year’s in an attempt to evaluate their AP programs. It would be like comparing apples and oranges. I want teachers to celebrate the higher scores for the right reasons and not to make inaccurate assumptions.
If you would like to read the message from College Board that was posted on the AP Spanish Language and Culture Community, click HERE.