A question came up while I was preparing my review of Apologia high school science: “Since the advanced Apologia courses are AP level, at what point has a student finished a ‘normal’ grade 12 course?” (AP stands for Advanced Placement level, representing courses that can be used by high school students to be credited for university-level material.)
Another way of putting this is to ask if the AP course material is taught after a regular university entrance grade 12 course, or if the two courses are different.
Now, the answer seems to depend in some degree upon where you live.
In Manitoba, Canada it seems that high school students can take a university entrance grade 11 course, a university entrance grade 12 course, and then an AP grade 12 course.
In Ontario, on the other hand, some high schools advertise that their AP and university entrance grade 12 courses are scheduled back to back, so that a student can easily drop from AP to the easier university entrance level classes. Thus the grade 12 university entrance course and the AP course seem to be two separate streams in Ontario.
The United States seems to have an approach similar to that of Ontario. Here is what Apologia Academy Instructor Rusty Hughes wrote, and he gave me permission to quote him:
First year chemistry courses are usually divided into a normal chemistry course and then either an “honors” or a “pre-AP” course. Students enrolled in normal chemistry have no plans of taking any more chemistry classes. The ones involved in “honors” or “pre-AP” courses have a desire to take further chemistry courses or will be enrolled in some sort of science or technical field in college.
So if there is a level of chemistry that Apologia is missing, I would say that it is a normal chemistry course. As written, if a student completes all of the course and lab work for our first year chemistry course, Dr. Wile says it is an honors chemistry course. Then our advanced chemistry course helps prepares the student for those standardized tests.
Where to go from here?
My conclusion, both professional and from the reading I’ve done, is that a student who does poorly at AP-level work (i.e. advanced Apologia courses) may still be well-prepared for university. In fact, the first year Apologia science courses will give students adequate (not thorough) grounding for many first year university science courses.
Students who do well in the advanced Apologia science courses and take the AP exams may get credit for some university courses. Although taking such exams is not necessary for success in post-secondary education, students who have mastered the material are superbly qualified to excel at first year university science courses.
It is, of course, still an open question whether or not AP exams really benefit students, or rather, which students they benefit. Once I organize my thoughts on that, I will post them.