AP Class question - AP Bio in particular - UPDATE 12/20
Post ReplyPost New TopicPosted 12/5/2012 by Really Red in NSBR Board
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Really Red
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Posted: 12/5/2012 5:06:41 PM
My 10th grader is taking AP Bio. She's quite good in science/math and has already taken Advanced Bio and Advanced Chemistry. She has straight A's in her other classes - all advanced and AP.

She is struggling in this class. Teacher is very hard-nosed. We finally met with him today (he took weeks to get back to us and didn't until we got VP involved). He is extremely dismissive of my DD saying she should study. Sigh. She is. She tells me she completely understands. We don't know where the problem is, but here is what teacher told me and I don't know if it's true or not:

She will have 5 grades for this 9-week marking period. 2 tests and 2 labs, plus mid-term. I think midterm counts for less, but am not sure. I think that is too few.

Teacher says that he follows AP course instruction to the letter. For example, my daughter was supposed to write her information in essay form on his test, and she did not (her fault) and he gave her a zero. No credit at all. He said that this is not an intro to biology for college but an advanced bio class for biology majors only. Basically, way past bio 101 (his words). He says this is ALWAYS for ALL AP Bio classes.

My aunt passed and we had to rush out of state. Sudden and awful. In the middle of her lab. SHe was gone for a long weekend, and was not allowed to turn her lab in one day late (not even for lower grade).

He has 8 students in his class. All 8 failed one test (out of the 3 they get!). It was the students' fault, he says and he is disappointed in them. They should have done better.

I asked if my DD could do extra credit or work with him on something and he said no. Absolutely not. I asked if she could rework one of her labs (she doesn't have grades yet, but she was worried about the one she had to rush) and he said no. It is not allowed.

I was exhausted after he talked with us and the basic gist was that this was not just a college course, but an advanced college course and really, since she hasn't taken physics, and she's only in 10th grade, she just is too young to do well.

I pointed out that between my two girls, they are taking 4 AP classes (with very difficult teachers) and in the other 3 the teachers have far more grades and in all 3 classes the girls are getting A's. I told him they understand the workload and are capable of doing it.

My DD cannot drop this class any longer and I don't want her to have a failing grade in 10th grade. I am frustrated and upset. Teacher says wait for labs to be graded and mid-term to be taken and see what to do, but then there are no more grades!!

I would love to talk to parents of other kids in the class, but they are seniors and I do not know them at all. Two of the kids in the class have complained to the VP, but I don't know what good that will do. They are all super smart kids, so I hope their complaints have weight, but I am just floored by this guy.

He also said that he will always grade on a curve regardless of the test and there will always be a child failing and one having an A (he said this in front of the VP!). But he has two geniuses in that class! (not my DD!) Is that fair? He says he takes the best paper and compares the others to that one.

I am so at a loss. This is the first time one of my kids has struggled like this. I'm not unhappy about the struggle, but I hate for my kid to fail because one guy thinks he's biology god.

So, am I off base? My other DD is taking AP Chem and there is just NOTHING like this at all, but similar course study type stuff. And her teacher is universally disliked (Not by my DD who loves him).

I'd just love to know where to turn.

UPDATE: The teacher has been fired. He left after the last test and stayed away for 7 class days. The 7 days before the midterm! The school cancelled the midterm and when the teacher came back on the day of the midterm, he was mad! He said they knew it was on 26 chapters and why did they need him there?

In any case, the principal called me and said that I was not the only one unhappy and other parents were very unhappy. It is clearly a pretty big mess. They are bringing in a teacher from the community college and will be going over every single one of the tests/labs that each of the students did this semester. Fortunately, the teacher didn't do a lot and there are only 8 students, but still I know that is a big job.

I hope my DD continues to the AP exam, but at this point, she is old enough to make her own choices on whether or not to continue after the semester.

Thanks again for all your good ideas and helpful thoughts. I really thought this AP class would be in line with an AP Chem one, but I see that is not the case, regardless of the teacher.


Andrea

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Nicole in TX
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Posted: 12/5/2012 5:11:55 PM
A few thoughts...

AP Biology (true AP College Board AP Bio) is a college level class. There is no extra credit at the college level. College professors collect a just a few grades to determine your semester grade. I had just a few papers and tests, that was it. I don't fault him for his grading system.

Also, 10th grade is really early to be taking a true AP Biology course. I would say a 10th grader is not developmentally ready to do the work. I would only roster seniors into this course.



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Posted: 12/5/2012 5:14:20 PM
WHY is she taking this class in 10th grade?! Does she not have an advisor? that could have told her otherwise? My dd is taking it.but she is JR.. Yes, and aunt died, but could she not have completed the day, then left? KWIM? and you admit one thing was her fault. I think we as parents sometimes have to understand things happen, and our kids can't totally be straight A students. This is only the 2nd qt right? she has plenty of time to make it up.






Really Red
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Posted: 12/5/2012 5:32:31 PM
She's taking this class because it was suggested to her. She is young; it's mostly 12th graders. She had to be approved before she went in and was by her bio and chem teachers and this teacher.

I do realize there are things that are her fault. I do not deny that. But I have had a lot of college and I have never EVER had a teacher who wasn't willing to work with me. NEVER EVER.

My niece has some personal struggles right now and every single one of her teachers is working with her - doing some very great things for her.

I can only go on the assumption that the teacher is fair in his grading, but my DD is not a dumb kid. She knows what she's doing. Science and math have always been easy for her and she breezed through chem and bio. Her other AP course is not like this at all and neither are my other DD's classes.

But really, I'm not trying to defend DD, I'm trying to figure out what the norm is for AP bio. It clearly doesn't mirror AP Government, AP Chemistry and AP World History.

She does not have any more time to make this up. It is not a year grade, it is a semester grade.


Andrea

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Posted: 12/5/2012 5:35:11 PM
I think I would discuss this with her guidance counselor.



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Posted: 12/5/2012 5:36:39 PM
So what is her grade at? is she failing?

I totally understand teachers working with kids. Most of the teachers my dd's have had do that too. BUT once in awhile..in HS, and in college you get these hardass teachers like this. It's just something you'll have to accept.






redboots
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Posted: 12/5/2012 5:41:55 PM
I took AP bio as a sophomore (way back when), and the standards for the class were similar to those your daughter is encountering.

No extra credit, no makeup work, etc. All of the AP and college courses I took provided a syllabus at the beginning of the term, which outlined the coursework for the class and the terms under which students would be graded. Did your daughter receive a syllabus at the beginning of the course?

At this point, I'm not sure there is anything that can be done other than for your daughter to make sure she follows directions and does everything possible to achieve high scores on the remaining assignments and tests. Perhaps she could use some tutoring for this class. Her strong performance in science and math in the past should benefit her greatly; she'll (hopefully) be able to catch up quickly.

CheleOh
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Posted: 12/5/2012 5:54:43 PM
My son took AP Bio as a sophomore. He loves science, but is an engineering major in college, so Bio isn't really his "THING".

He had a really good teacher who offered a lot of lunch-time study sessions (that he took advantage of) and really REALLY prepared the kids for the test. He got a 4 on the AP test ... fine with him ... but more than half of the kids in his section earned 5s. I will add that this teacher, again, was really dedicated to what she did & the kids respected her. The entire boys' basketball team wore pink socks for their games one week to "support" her as she entered breast cancer treatment. Brendan was determined in honoring her that way because of all she'd done for him. He went pink-sock-shopping himself.

Your daughter's teacher sounds like a hard ass (I'm a teacher), but I taught my kids - especially at the HS level - that it's THEIR issue to deal with their teachers. Not mine.

I DO know that had MY aunt passed away (not THEIR aunt), I would not have pulled them out of school. I hope that doesn't sound callous, but it was my kids' responsibility is to be at school. MY aunt passing wouldn't be on their radar. Maybe it's just our family dynamic, but ... well ... I just had to put that out there.

My son is now enrolled at a University on the quarter system. He's "lucky" if he has more than three grades that determine his final grade. He knew this going in, though, so if your daughter wasn't prepared for this grading scale, it's probably difficult now to work backwards. As someone else said, there is no "extra credit" (or SHOULDN'T BE) in AP courses.

I even tell my 5th graders that any desired "extra credit" should be put toward "EXTRA EFFORT" toward what they're doing NOW... not trying to make up for previous issues. I do offer "extra experience" points. Those experiences have deadlines, and are not offered as last-minute fixes.

I hope it gets worked out, but I think your daughter will have to take the lumps on this one.

Chele




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Posted: 12/5/2012 6:13:00 PM
How timely. We just met with guidance TODAY about Caeley, my sophomore, and her two AP classes.

She is struggling not in those classes as much as a good 'ole Geometry. She just made all As in her tough classes, but a D in that class.

She wanted out of that class, and then by domino/default effect, her two ap classes. Not gonna happen, but mostly because at this late stage, they just can't do it.

Her counselor will be placing her in a special after school tutoring class that's being offered up by some senior brainiacs tutor club at school. Additionally she is now being tutored by a friend of mine who's a math teacher.

I agree with the poster above me who says to get some extra help.

Sidebar; we're hearing the AP Scholar program is kind of not what it should be; we're also upset that the Geometry class she's taking is not really being "taught," but rather, being given packets and advise to watch a video each night on Youtube. My kid cannot learn that way, at all. I did the VAARK thing with her recently, and she definitely doesn't fit this type of teaching; she needs hands on instruction.



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Posted: 12/5/2012 6:27:29 PM
It sounds like a tough situation to be in. I don't understand the one kid always failing and one kid always getting an A thing. If every one of the kids in the class earned a five on the AP exam, those scores would stand. But on the other hand, if none of the students earned a passing score on the AP exam, those scores would stand, too. AP has certain grading criteria, and it sounds like the teacher is adhering to that. Getting a zero for not putting her information on exam seems pretty harsh, but she wouldn't get credit from the College Board if she failed to put her info on an exam as well.

Tenth grade does seem pretty young for this class. In our district, sophomores aren't allowed to take AP Biology. The sophomores take Biology, but it is either honors or regular. The honors class is taught like a college Bio 101 and 102 in preparation for the AP Biology which is more like a 200-level course. Is she struggling in part because she doesn't have the foundation for the course? Because she hasn't had a proper introduction into how AP Bio is graded? A lot of kids who are good in science and math don't necessarily do well in Biology. Biology is vocabulary intensive, and it doesn't use a lot of formulas. It sounds like it is more because of the failing grades on the test and lab, but I had to ask.

Does the school have a written policy for late work? I know my son's school provides for a certain number of days after an excused absence to turn in late work. Still, my kid has had hard-nosed teachers before, and he has emailed assignments to the teacher or taken them to a friend's house so the friend could turn in assignments for him. He has to miss a lot of class during the cross country season, but he has always kept in communication with those teachers and has never had an issue.

I think your best bet would be finding out the school-wide policy on late work. If there is one in place and your daughter's lab assignment would have fit into the parameters of the policy, have her talk to the counselor about being a mediator between her and the teacher.

Other than that, all she can really do is try to be perfect for this class, study, turn in assignments without being rushed, take advantage of any study sessions or extra help, and then study some more.

P.S. Have her keep all of her lab notebooks from the class. Some universities want proof of lab work from science APs before awarding credit.

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Posted: 12/5/2012 7:31:35 PM

Teacher says that he follows AP course instruction to the letter. For example, my daughter was supposed to write her information in essay form on his test, and she did not (her fault) and he gave her a zero. No credit at all. He said that this is not an intro to biology for college but an advanced bio class for biology majors only. Basically, way past bio 101 (his words). He says this is ALWAYS for ALL AP Bio classes.

My aunt passed and we had to rush out of state. Sudden and awful. In the middle of her lab. SHe was gone for a long weekend, and was not allowed to turn her lab in one day late (not even for lower grade).

He has 8 students in his class. All 8 failed one test (out of the 3 they get!). It was the students' fault, he says and he is disappointed in them. They should have done better.

Our district only allows students with a 4.00 (unweighted) as a 10th grade student to take AP classes and even then, the list is fairly limited of what they can take. AP Biology is NOT allowed for 10th graders there, period. AP Biology IS demanding. And if he is teaching it exactly as outlined by College Board, then great. But that does NOT mean he cannot allow things to be done for credit after an excused absence. That is one area where I would be having an issue with him.

Another area I would have an issue is him saying 'all AP Biology' classes are like this. There is only ONE AP Biology class. There are other AP science based classes, but he should know there are not other Biology classes. There are some, like Calculus or Government and Politics, that have different sections, but Biology is a single class.

And if all 8 are failing a test, then it is on HIM. He should have taught more effectively or on the Administration for putting kids in a failing situation if they were not prepared for that class from their Freshman year. My boys have each failed an AP test over the years, but never once has EVERY kid in the class failed. And when my older son was at the HS my boys used to attend, he had AP classes with more than 30 students and not even 8 failed then! We can see online the scores of each student, (just not who they belong to) and I would be having a serious Come to Jesus with the administration at your school.






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Posted: 12/5/2012 8:18:40 PM
If all students in a class fail a test, then the teacher is at fault. I am a teacher and I would reteach and retest in that situation even if it is an AP class.

Our AP Bio class is only for 12th graders. Your dd is too young for this class. I can't believe the teacher would not take the lab report. Your daughter's absence would be an excused absence. The class may be a college level course, but the teacher still has to abide by high school attendance rules.

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Posted: 12/5/2012 8:42:01 PM

My 10th grader is taking AP Bio. She's quite good in science/math and has already taken Advanced Bio and Advanced Chemistry


In our high school the students essentially have to take a FULL year of Chemistry, a FULL year of Biology and a FULL year of Physics, all preferably in the Honors track, before they can take AP Bio or AP Chem or AP Physics. Basically that means they are seniors. I am with the other Peas in wondering how a 10 grader could be in AP Biology.



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Posted: 12/5/2012 8:51:01 PM
Some things he is saying are reasonable. Three grades is all I had in some college classes, and there should be no extra credit. But grading on a curve? He should be grading according to the rubrics we get from College Board. First, I wonder if his syllabus has been approved by College Board - this year - since it's a new curriculum this year.


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Posted: 12/5/2012 9:15:48 PM


In our high school the students essentially have to take a FULL year of Chemistry, a FULL year of Biology and a FULL year of Physics, all preferably in the Honors track, before they can take AP Bio or AP Chem or AP Physics. Basically that means they are seniors. I am with the other Peas in wondering how a 10 grader could be in AP Biology.

Same here.

I'm not as familiar with the AP system as others here--my oldest is taking her first AP class, US History, this year--but I know that the expectations are different. As a previous poster mentioned, maybe it's time to involve her guidance counselor to get a second opinion on what's going on there.



mollyw
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Posted: 12/5/2012 9:19:48 PM
I think ap bio has a reputation as being one of the hardest ap classes. Is this her first one? Her class may be the class that scores all 5's since it is challenging and the teacher is posting them

Is she utilizing all the on line resources? Ther are examples of DBQ essays that have been scored. Also tons of practice multiple choice tests are out there. Sometimes I thought it was bordering on cheating

We also have a study guide- many brands out there- for every ap class he is enrolled in. It tells the details and percentage of questions by topics. It explains the themes and has teaches to the test. It is a good overview of the whole year.

For APUSH- people advised him to read the chapter at assignment time and then read it again before the unit test. Is she putting a couple of hours of homework on this one class?
Also, tell the students to ask for study sessions before or after school.

Elizabeth*S*
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Posted: 12/5/2012 9:28:02 PM
FWIW

I just briefly asked my dd who is a senior this year. She currently has 5 AP and 1 honors class, one of her AP classes is Bio and this is what she said...

"Thats one ambitious sophomore! My school only lets us take it senior year. It's a known fact that's it's one of THE hardest AP test there is. I think maybe she needs to speak to her counselor. Is it too late to transfer out? She really doesn't *need* to take that this year. And as far as grading is concerned I do think it's a bit more rigidly structured."

I hope you can get it settled soon I know how frustrating this can be.


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Really Red
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Posted: 12/5/2012 10:32:49 PM

I DO know that had MY aunt passed away (not THEIR aunt), I would not have pulled them out of school. I hope that doesn't sound callous, but it was my kids' responsibility is to be at school. MY aunt passing wouldn't be on their radar. Maybe it's just our family dynamic, but ... well ... I just had to put that out there.


It was only one day. Labs are done on Thursday and I pulled her Friday. We got back Sunday late. She normally works over the weekend on labs, which are due on Monday. They are time-consuming. She did take stuff with her, but no internet connection. She finished the lab, but she felt it was not a good effort on her part and wanted an extra day. Sadly, I am a single parent and dad does not take kids (his choice) so I had to take them all with me. It was good for them (as a by-the-by) to take care of their great-uncles and aunts there. IN any case, she honestly didn't expect the extra day, but at that point, she didn't know that she (and the rest of the class) failed the first test. She didn't think it'd be a big deal. Of all things to work on, this seems the easiest for a teacher to give a little leaway.


Our district only allows students with a 4.00 (unweighted) as a 10th grade student to take AP classes and even then, the list is fairly limited of what they can take. AP Biology is NOT allowed for 10th graders there, period.


While our district encourages AP classes, this one she needed special consideration. She was asked to take it by her 9th grade bio teacher. Her twin sister was asked to take AP Bio, AP Chem and the (normal for 10th grade) AP World History. They even suggested she take AP Government. In the end, while she wanted to, I said NO WAY. I thought two was pushing it. Both my girls had unweighted 4.0s and weighted were almost 4.5s. Neither took any electives, except PE (their only 4.0 course - sorry, French, as well). Twin is doing extremely well, even though her classmates are all juniors/seniors and in Governor's School. Both my girls have an aptitude for science and math and never had had an issue. It wasn't that my DD thought that AP Bio would be easy, but she thought she'd manage. She really thought she'd have a harder time in AP Gov't. SUPER hard class, but there are a lot of grades and teacher has clearer expectations (IMO). She has an A - not a high one, but still an A.

In the spirit of disclosing all the details, she does have mild dysgraphia. The difference between her rote learning and her aptitude is over 45 IQ points. That's a big struggle for anyone (22 points difference and schools make exceptions. She does not want this), but she has managed well. I think that when the teacher wrote "Write in essay form" she skipped over it because she was nervous and multi-step directions are extremely difficult for children with dysgraphia (my son has it severely - 80 IQ points difference, but has a 504). It is an excuse, but not a reason to change a grade. It just seems to me that while clearly on the AP exam they wouldn't accept something not in essay form, but to give a child a zero on the essay section (maybe half the test) because she didn't write it in essay form seems a bit hard-nosed. I did ask if the information was good and he said she knew what she was talking about. I do not think a tutor would necessarily help her. It seems to me that she is just not giving the teacher what he wants to see. It's not only the essay, but other things as well.

I am still disturbed at having her compared to two geniuses, because I don't know why that would happen and how fair that is. I honestly have never heard of a first year college class where children are pitted against each other to learn and only so many can do well. I'm not sure I've ever heard of a class like that either.

It is too late to transfer or drop the course. She will take 1st semester physics here at home and start 2nd semester physics with her school in mid-January, so she doesn't lose science time (her choice, not mine at all since she will study her entire winter break).

As I said before, if she can get away with a C in the class I'll consider it a good lesson. Not a great grade for a child who was at the top of the class, but she worked her butt off and knows she tried her hardest. My worries are if she fails the class. I am seriously worried about this. Her midterm is on 26 chapters.

I guess I see the three other AP teachers. All very strict. Most kids HATE them. Few people take those other classes (except AP History), but my kids LOVE those teachers. They like the discipline and the learning. And they do very well.

Is AP Bio really for Bio majors only (teacher said this) and not basically a Bio 101 (he said Bio 107 or 108, which I have never heard of)? My niece is a bio major and she thinks this is off the wall, but she's also just 19 and loves her aunt and maybe is just agreeing with her


For APUSH- people advised him to read the chapter at assignment time and then read it again before the unit test. Is she putting a couple of hours of homework on this one class?
Also, tell the students to ask for study sessions before or after school.


BTW, this is excellent advice. She does do 1-2 hours nightly and about 6-10 hours once/week on this course. But she was not reading in advance of the lectures. She will be doing that now! Still, it seems to me she does understand, just not giving the teacher exactly what he wants and he is EXACT.


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Posted: 12/5/2012 10:57:12 PM
If it is any consolation, I do believe she can retake this course (maybe her senior year) and the first grade received will be cancelled.

Although, if she receives a lower grade but passes the actual AP test, I was told this is what a college looks at for acceptance. We recently had an AP meeting at our high school and the "attempt" and AP exam score are the main considerations.

A student can take an honors class and be the at the top with their score, but if they take the AP class of the same and receives a somewhat lower grade, this supposedly is more accepted by the university.

I am completely new at this myself (DD is AP Psych and AP Calc) so I certainly hope the information I am telling you is correct.
Good luck


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Posted: 12/5/2012 11:16:08 PM

I do realize there are things that are her fault. I do not deny that. But I have had a lot of college and I have never EVER had a teacher who wasn't willing to work with me. NEVER EVER.


This paragraph bothers me.

"I have never ere had a teacher who wasn't willing to work with *ME*"

It's an AP level class for a HS student. The teacher shouldn't be working with the parent. Your DD should be handling it. And if she couldn't handle it she should have realized it and dropped the class before she was a semester into school.

This class is supposed to be college level work. Let her have the experience of dealing with a professor and grading on a curve and all the rest of it.

If the VP was sitting there and listening to all of the teacher's comments, then it seems like none of them were out of line with shook policy.



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Posted: 12/5/2012 11:32:34 PM

Is AP Bio really for Bio majors only (teacher said this) and not basically a Bio 101 (he said Bio 107 or 108, which I have never heard of)?


AP Biology should be equivalent to the Biology class taken by freshman science majors or pre-meds. The basic Into Biology for all advanced Biology classes. Numbers vary from college to college, and at some places it could still be called "Bio 101"- every school has their own numbering system. AP Biology is at the level for students who have completed a full year of high school biology, high school chemistry and high school physics, and who probably have finished or are in calculus. It is not the biology for non-science majors.



I honestly have never heard of a first year college class where children are pitted against each other to learn and only so many can do well.


This happens ALL the time. That is what happens when a bell curve is used to assign grades. The distribution determines the letter grades. Depending on where the average is and how many standard deviations away your grade is will determine your letter grade. The average on an exam could be a 50%, and that would be a anywhere from a B- to a C depending on the school, not an "F". On the other hand if the average is an 89% that would also be a B- to a C.

Unfortunately it is exactly as you describe, pitting the students against each other.


M

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Posted: 12/5/2012 11:48:37 PM
I don't have any experience with AP classes (they didn't start in my high school until the year after I graduated) but I am now back in school as a biology major and will add in with those saying that his expectations are in line with what most science professors at universities expect.

Entry level biology and chemistry for science majors in college is anything but entry-level. It's incredibly challenging. I've been lucky that I think we generally get 3 exams throughout the semester and then one final, which is weighted more heavily. But there are no options for extra credit. Some teachers grade on the curve and some do not.

I'm sorry that your DD is struggling. And while the teacher sounds like a delta bravo, I don't think he's out of line with what should be expected. It's an incredibly challenging course. I commend her for giving it a shot, but I took this course in college at the age of 24 and I still had a dang hard time (I also did well in school historically, took extra science classes for electives instead of "fun" classes, honor society, etc). And there also isn't much by way of makeup for absences. In my chemistry courses, if you miss more than one lab, you automatically fail. No ands, ifs, or buts.

Send her some hugs, talk to the counselor, see if there are options available so it doesn't negatively impact her GPA. Good luck.


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peapermint
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Posted: 12/6/2012 2:25:54 AM
How frustrating for you both!


If it is any consolation, I do believe she can retake this course (maybe her senior year) and the first grade received will be cancelled.



I did this when I got a D the second semester of Algebra I my freshman year (this was back in the '80s). I got all the way through Algebra II and had to go back and take the second semester over my senior year so I could get into college.

In my experience, AP classes weren't that hard and they barely followed the "rules" at all. My AP history teacher showed movies at least once a week -- action flicks like Running Man or Evil Dead II. Seriously. Weird. And the rest of the time we played history-based Pictionary. And I also took AP English and it was easy (I don't think I'm gifted; just "high-achieving" except in math).

They must really have cracked down in some areas.

I think your DD just needs to do her best at this point; drop the class at the semester so she doesn't have to stress about it anymore this year. But if it's going to be the same teacher in two years, maybe just go ahead and take a less biology class.

ktNryansmom
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Posted: 12/6/2012 2:57:50 AM
All grades and exams aside....
Has she learned anything???



Karen

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Really Red
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Posted: 12/6/2012 5:35:33 AM

This paragraph bothers me.

"I have never ere had a teacher who wasn't willing to work with *ME*"

It's an AP level class for a HS student. The teacher shouldn't be working with the parent. Your DD should be handling it. And if she couldn't handle it she should have realized it and dropped the class before she was a semester into school.



I went back to see if I wasn't clear I was talking about ME and MY COLLEGE. This is actually what I wrote:


But I have had a lot of college and I have never EVER had a teacher who wasn't willing to work with me. NEVER EVER.


Seems pretty clear to me that I am talking about my own college experience. If you highlight something, then CTRL C (copy) then hit the "Quote" button next to "Insert PeaCode" you can get a direct quote.


All grades and exams aside....
Has she learned anything???

Yes. But I think she's shown that to the teacher the whole time. Not the way he wants (and I will reiterate that he can get his way), but she has shown she knows what she is doing.


Andrea

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; But often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.
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Posted: 12/6/2012 8:58:27 AM

I am still disturbed at having her compared to two geniuses, because I don't know why that would happen and how fair that is. I honestly have never heard of a first year college class where children are pitted against each other to learn and only so many can do well. I'm not sure I've ever heard of a class like that either.



I don't know anything about AP Bio as my DS didn't take it, but I just wanted to respond to this. My DS is a freshman at an academically rigorous college, and his roomate has a freshman level programming course where one (ONE!!!) student gets an A. The students are all well aware of this, and the purpose for the crazy curve is to weed out students that won't be able to cut it in the next level of this extremely competitive program. This might be kind of an extreme example, but the concept isn't that unusual, I don't think.


Barbara
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ktNryansmom
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Posted: 12/6/2012 11:56:55 AM
I think in the end it's a lesson learned. She's learned something in the class so that's good. Try to think big picture and it only being one class.

It's also a very good (but harsh) lesson learned about different grading styles and teacher styles.



Karen

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batya
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Posted: 12/6/2012 12:07:52 PM
When I took AP Bio, 11th grade, I took one year of Bio prior and I took my year of chem concurrently. I didn't take AP chem and physics until the year after. If you can't be a senior in some schools until you take AP Bio, how would an advanced student take AP chem (as I did senior year) or Ap physics?

If I didn't skip the 8th grade, I would have been on track to take AP Bio in the 10th grade.


OK. Newbie. This is how it works. If your post consists of 80% sanity, 10% stupidity and 10% all kinds of crazy, we immediately focus on the 20% b/c it discredits the 80%.




Fraidyscrapper
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Posted: 12/6/2012 12:30:43 PM
BTW, you can download the course outline from the College Board, so you will know if he is following things "to the letter".


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Sophikins
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Posted: 12/6/2012 1:09:55 PM
In response to this question:

If you can't be a senior in some schools until you take AP Bio, how would an advanced student take AP chem (as I did senior year) or Ap physics?


In our high school this is the way it is done:
(with the 9th, 10th and 11th grade classes in the Honors track)

9th- Biology
10th- Chemistry
11th- Physics
12th AP Bio plus AP Chem or AP Physics as an elective.


M

batya
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Posted: 12/6/2012 1:13:36 PM
Wow. Thanks Soph for answering. Not at all how we did it in my HS. My senior yr was packed with AP Chem, Ap Calc, AP Engl Lit, AP Spanish, physics. My JR year I took AP Bio, AP Music Comp, AP Am Hist... I don't know how I would have squeezed it all in.


OK. Newbie. This is how it works. If your post consists of 80% sanity, 10% stupidity and 10% all kinds of crazy, we immediately focus on the 20% b/c it discredits the 80%.




MellyW
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Posted: 12/6/2012 1:21:15 PM

Tough lesson to learn for sure, but it does sound like your DD shouldn't be in AP Bio. My DD was in all AP classes her Jr. & Sr. years, and AP Bio was the most challenging for her. The class length was 1.5 hours, & I think the Teacher was smart to insist on that. Especially gave them time on labs.

Does your DD have an idea of what she wants to major in? A lot of the "AP kids" at my DD's High School didn't take AP Bio because they weren't headed into a major that it would help with & because of it's reputation for being so hard. The Teacher was also notoriously hard-nosed, but my DD loved her.

My DD is a Freshman in college, dual majoring in Biomedical Engineering and Pre-Med, so AP Bio was important for her to take.

Most of the higher ranked colleges don't give credit for AP Bio without a 5 on the test, especially if she plans to go into a science field. Just something else to think about. If she has some colleges in mind, it's worth it to look at their websites to check what they require to get credit for AP classes.


Darcy_Collins
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Posted: 12/6/2012 1:24:45 PM

I don't know why that would happen and how fair that is. I honestly have never heard of a first year college class where children are pitted against each other to learn and only so many can do well.


That is absolutely my experience. I will never forget my freshman year when I received a 12/100 on one exam and a 90/100 on another and BOTH were Cs. I confess the 90/100 still pisses me off.

ETA

He also said that he will always grade on a curve regardless of the test and there will always be a child failing and one having an A


This is inconsistent with you other statement when is all 8 kids failed the first exam -

peasful1
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Posted: 12/6/2012 3:56:40 PM
Here they won't even let kids take two honours science classes concurrently in 9th or 10th grade. Which means they can't take their first AP science until their junior year. They also won't let kids take certain math and science courses concurrently in 9th or 10th. One must be completed before they take the other. Last year, my son's teacher recommended him to take both honours chem and physics this year (sophomore) but the school wouldn't let him.

He has a 5.0 weighted core GPA and a 4.66 weighted, 4.0 unweighted, overall GPA If she's struggling, maybe it's because her brain just isn't ready for it, yet. It's not a commentary on her intelligence, just her physical development. Sometimes there is a method to the madness of the course timeline.

Also, I've treated classrooms like work environments. The teacher is pretty much the CEO of that classroom. Their rules, their expectations...and the student is to conform to those standards. Being successful in life is about having the ability to adapt.


------------------------------------
"When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself." -- Wayne Dyer


Really Red
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Posted: 12/6/2012 4:37:58 PM

This is inconsistent with you other statement when is all 8 kids failed the first exam -


I know! Glad you picked up on that. My DD tells me everyone failed the test. She says this is a fact and she rarely tells me things that are facts. Rarely. She always allows for error and someone else's opinion. She says everyone told her this. Now everyone could be lying to her, but they have no reason. DD also tells me that the teacher outright told the class they all failed.

I brought it up to the teacher. He said everyone did badly on test, but he told me he gave an A to one student. DD told me afterwards that was not true. I am going to believe DD on this one as teacher was caught in a few other similar untruths. But in the end, that just was NOT the point for me. My point was how can my daughter pass this class? Not whether or not her classmates could.

It is a 1.5 hour class (2 periods)


Andrea

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; But often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.
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Really Red
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Posted: 12/6/2012 4:42:25 PM

Here they won't even let kids take two honours science classes concurrently in 9th or 10th grade.


I agree with this policy. Our school is so AP crazy, that I think this is a problem. What has been made clear to me at this point is my DD should NEVER have taken this class. She should not have been encouraged to take it and not have been accepted into it.

I am just grateful beyond words that I said no for my other DD. They wanted her to take it with AP Chem and AP History. They thought she could handle 4 courses (AP Govt too). They really pushed her to do it and she wanted it to. I cannot even imagine. Other DD wants to be bio major and I think this teacher would have discouraged her right out of it.

While it's a good lesson for my DD, it's a sad lesson as it affects her most excellent GPA and affects her chances to getting into the college of her choice because she will drop this at the semester.


Andrea

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; But often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.
Helen Keller

Sophikins
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Posted: 12/6/2012 4:57:49 PM

My DD tells me everyone failed the test.



He said everyone did badly on test, but he told me he gave an A to one student.


These actually may not be inconsistent statements.

Some of this may have to do with what is meant by "failing". Throughout elementary, middle and most of high school people equate percentage correct with 90%'s equaling A's, 80%'s equaling B's and so on down to anything below 60% equals "failing". This is not the case in many college courses (another Pea mentioned her experience with this too).

That is what grading on a curve is about; the % correct on a test does NOT directly correspond to a letter grade. If a test average score was 45%, that would be about a C, and a 59% could actually be an A. So your DD may have meant that everyone got below 60%, but that may NOT mean everyone got an F or "failing".


M

MellyW
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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:17:13 PM

Really Red- I'd look into how dropping the class would effect her. A friend of my DD ended up being homebound schooled for half the year (kid was sick,can't remember with what).

Anyway, he ended up with some credit for the first half of AP Bio. I'm sorry I can't remember how it all worked out, but it did to his benefit.
I'm with you that it would be a terrible shame to effect her great grade point average, I'd meet with her counselor & see what can be worked out. I know a lot of Pea's think the high schooler should figure it all out, but I had no problem going to bat for my DD.

Good luck, that's really crazy that everyone failed the test.

MikeWozowski
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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:23:43 PM
FYI - the statement that there is no extra credit in college is false. it may be true in some cases, but i am positive that it is not in all cases.

i have two kids at two different colleges, and they have both had EC opportunities.

they also have scenarios such as, we count your top 10 quiz grades (thus dropping some of them).

we were told this BS all throughout high school ... but it is just not true.

peapermint
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Posted: 12/6/2012 6:31:56 PM

FYI - the statement that there is no extra credit in college is false. it may be true in some cases, but i am positive that it is not in all cases.


This! I got an A+ in a class my freshman year in college. It's right there on my state university transcript.



we were told this BS all throughout high school ... but it is just not true.


I wish someone would have told me this before I got to college. I stressed SO hard in junior high and high school and nothing they said would be a big deal was a big deal.

Kind of like "this is going down on your permanent record."

ETA: My dorky rural school only offered three AP classes: English, History, and Chemistry.

mdoc
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Posted: 12/6/2012 7:12:36 PM
When my D took AP courses in HS, they did not have the extra points for homework, participation, frequent quizzes and the like that were often available in other classes. There were a couple tests and a final, and that was your grade. Kind of how it is in college. At D's HS there was an AP Physics teacher who sounds not unlike your daughter's teacher - kids who had never gotten a grade below an A in 3 years of HS got bad grades from this guy. Since they were seniors and most college decisions were being made on their 9-11 grades, it wasn't as big a deal as it will be for your D. And all of those kids got 5's on the AP Physics exam. The guy was tough, but those kids learned the material. My D's worst AP class grade was from sophomore year - she had more maturity and experience for the AP classes she took junior and senior years. She got the same scores on the AP exams (which is what really counted for credit); she just wasn't used to the differences in classroom grading in 10th grade. I understand your frustration, though. Perhaps it would help for your daughter to discuss the situation with her guidance counselor. Or maybe you can get feedback on what happened in this teacher's class last year. Maybe he puts a curve on the final grades.

PeawithChemistry
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Posted: 12/6/2012 7:48:14 PM

I honestly have never heard of a first year college class where children are pitted against each other to learn and only so many can do well.
Every single one of my classes in college was graded on a curve, and I was a chemistry major. My university curved to a 2.6 GPA. Yes, that's much lower than pretty much any liberal arts school, but not that odd for an engineering school.

Tha said, a strict curve DOES NOT work for an 8 person class. There just isn't a big enough statistical sample to make it fair. My law school (which also enforced a strict curve) exempted classes with fewer than 12 students from the curve.

I hope your daughter figures out the class. A lot of succeeding in any class is learning the teacher, so you know what to study and how to present your knowledge. That is certainly something you learn in college and your daughter will be ahead if she learns it now. Perhaps she can figure out a system and ultimately succeed. A bad grade in one semester is more redeemable if she can do well in the spring and get a good score on the exam. Heck, it might even be worthy of a college essay or interview response to explain how she overcame a challenge.

It's great that stuff typically comes early to her, but maybe this challenge will be a good learning experience. Instead of blaming the teacher, treat it like a challenge. Her vs. him. He poses the challenges and she needs to outsmart him. Don't give up. He won the first round, but she can still win. She just needs to play his game.

scrapcreator
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Posted: 12/6/2012 7:57:16 PM
Dd's school only allows seniors to take AP Bio.

It is that difficult. And it is kicking dd's butt.

She had planned to study genetics in college. Now she is not so sure.

Jeanne


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~SuburbanMom~
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Posted: 12/6/2012 8:02:03 PM
I took AP bio as a sophomore and found it very difficult.

I ended up studying Ivy League engineering so I was good at math -- chemistry and physics were much easier for me than bio -- I think because bio is not so much about math, maybe the same is true for your daughter.

Has she done the genetics portion yet? For me that was the only section I breezed through - again because it was math based. It was a shame because I actually enjoyed bio more than my other subjects but I wasn't as good at them....



Donna in GA
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Posted: 12/6/2012 8:23:02 PM
It has been 26 years since I was in college, but I only had 1 class that offered extra credit. It was art appreciation. I got extra credit for going to a museum over spring break. I also never had a course in college that graded on a curve. I think it is just wrong to do this. I think a grade should be based on the percent of the material that you learned, not on how you did compared to others in the class. It isn't right that someone who only learned 40% of the material could get an A because they did the best in the class.

Really Red
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Posted: 12/6/2012 9:46:38 PM

Has she done the genetics portion yet? For me that was the only section I breezed through - again because it was math based.

She has. She said she understood this like nothing else. She totally got it. This was the test she failed.

I don't think she didn't get it. I think the teacher wanted something my DD didn't give him.


Tha said, a strict curve DOES NOT work for an 8 person class. There just isn't a big enough statistical sample to make it fair. My law school (which also enforced a strict curve) exempted classes with fewer than 12 students from the curve.


Yes. I love this. But really, unless there is a review with the teacher, no one is going to sit down with him and look at all 8 exams and see if he curved fairly or not. It is just not going to happen.

One thing I hadn't mentioned because it really wasn't overly important was that he has missed over 10 days of class. And yet another today, for 11! But there is nothing I can do about that but be frustrated. I said something to VP, but I am not privy to WHY he missed the classes. Or really, why he can't do but two labs in 9 weeks.


Andrea

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; But often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.
Helen Keller

daisy888
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Posted: 12/7/2012 10:53:35 AM
Both of my daughters took AP Bio as sophomores, because they had been placed into Honors Bio as freshmen, and had done very well in it. Their science placement as freshmen was based on their math level-they had finished Algebra and Geometry in 7th and 8th.

This varies significantly by district. You are in a district like mine where some students are accelerated in middle school and then offered AP classes starting much earlier than in other districts.

It's up to your daughter if she want to always follow the recommendations of her teachers and counselor about what courses to take when. She may need to really investigate the writing expectations for each class and try to anticipate how her dysgraphia will effect her.

I would strongly recommend you go to the College Board website and look at the curriculum for AP Bio, and look at the required labs. I would also try to get to know other parents of students similar to your daughter (preferably with children a year or two older) so you can get the straight scoop on teachers. Since it is optional when your daughter takes AP classes, I would really encourage her to find out in advance what classes and teachers are like.

Tests in AP Bio classes should be similar in format to the AP test. Every single lab report should be written in the format required by AP, and every essay question should be graded using the rubric the College Board uses to grade the exam.

Your daughter should look at the College Board site and look at questions used in previous exams, and the answers, and how they were scored. Besides learning high-level Bio, she is being prepared for an exam which is scored heavily on writing long answers, in a very specific way.

She needs to talk to her teacher herself, and to her counselor. I hate to say this, but if she wants to take a lot of AP classes, particularly in science, she needs to assume that some teachers will be very strict about deadlines and absences. It really doesn't matter if a college teacher would allow this or that...a good student has to understand the expectations one specific teacher. A straight A student doesn't have all excellent teachers...they have met, somehow or another, the expectations of lots of different types of teachers.

Figuring out how to do that is part of the process of becoming an independent and strong student.

Really Red
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Posted: 12/7/2012 12:04:50 PM
Thank you daisy - most excellent advice. I wish I had it last year! Poor oldest kids are guinea pigs for everything.

My 12yo son has reaped more benefits from the mistakes I made with my girls. He better turn out PERFECT

Thanks for that info. It really is good. I found two sites "collegeboard.com" and "apcentral.com" Do you know which one is correct?


Andrea

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; But often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.
Helen Keller

daisy888
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Posted: 12/7/2012 12:40:52 PM
I really should know how to do a link! Sorry.

http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/repository/AP_BiologyCED_Effective_Fall_2012_lkd.pdf

My daughters liked the review books put out by Princeton Review. Their AP textbook (the college textbook) was quite dense and boring, so they liked to read the Princeton Review book in addition sometimes.)

I feel for you! We felt so lucky to have a fantastic AP Bio teacher at our school, with an exceptionally high pass rate on the AP test. The AP Chem teacher unfortunately was similar to your daughter's Bio teacher. I remember reminding my daughters they didn't have to like her, and that they had to figure out how to learn the material either from her, or in spite of her, if they wanted to do well on the AP exam.

Your daughter sounds like she is quite bright, and will be constantly guided into challenging classes. Remind her that it is really up to her if she takes those classes or not.

Now my daughters are at very intensely academic universities, and discovering that just because you took the AP class and got a good grade in it and on the AP exam, it is not always wise to take that credit and register for the more advanced college class!

_Laurie_
PeaNut

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Posted: 12/7/2012 2:34:59 PM

It was only one day. Labs are done on Thursday and I pulled her Friday. We got back Sunday late. She normally works over the weekend on labs, which are due on Monday. They are time-consuming. She did take stuff with her, but no internet connection. She finished the lab, but she felt it was not a good effort on her part and wanted an extra day.

So, the lab was on Thursday. She was there for the lab. You pulled her out of school on Friday. She had her things with her, but no Internet connection over the weekend (not that Internet would be needed for a Biology lab. She should have all of the data in her lab notes). She is at school on Monday when the lab is due, but she doesn't turn it in because it was not "a good effort." She was in school on the assignment day and on the due date. The funeral has no bearing here. It isn't make-up work at this point. It is a missing assignment.

She "skipped over" the instructions on the test and failed that portion of the test.

And you ask the teacher if she can "do extra credit or work with him on something"? Or if she could "rework one of her labs"?

The notion that the teacher is "universally disliked," that he grades on a curve, the "geniuses" in the class, the relatively few number of recorded grades in this class, your daughter's dysgraphia, your daughter's success in other courses, your daughter's age, the teacher's policy on late work, the teacher's policy on partial credit for essay questions that are not written in essay form, the comparison to other AP classes, the amount of time it took to get a response from the teacher, the teacher's use of his own leave time, even the funeral and lack of Internet over the weekend are all red herrings here. The issues come down to a missing lab report and a skipped essay question on a test that are tanking her grade and the teacher not making special concessions. You've already met with the teacher and involved the VP. Now that she knows the consequences of not turning in labs and skipping essay questions on tests, maybe she'll do better in the course.

I remember when you had issues with the French teacher last year because she was "arrogant and condescending." You wanted to conference with her in French to test her knowledge, but were upset because the counselor had been invited to the meeting too.

I'd love to hear the Biology teacher's side of this.
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