Assessment Timeline on Advanced Placement English

25 Sep

I made my timeline on the website Dipity:

For my assessment history timeline, I looked at the history of Advanced Placement English.  The most interesting trend I saw was the shift from AP being seen as elitist to being seen as a way to get ahead in college.  AP started as the idea of elite colleges and private secondary schools.  Many students at elite colleges reported being bored by their freshmen coursework because these courses covered material they learned in high school.  The solution school administrators came to was to design advanced courses and exams so students could enter college with advanced standing.  For its first 20 years, AP was seen as an elitist program, not for most students.  After 1983’s Nation at Risk, several reports and commissions praised AP.  The program grew as students began to see AP as a way for anyone to get college credits.  Laws passed by state legislatures in support of AP continued that growth.  By the 1990’s, AP courses became almost a necessity on the transcript of anyone hoping to get into college.  In 2007, the synthesis question was added to the AP English Language and Composition Exam to make the tasks on the test more like the tasks students do in a freshman composition course.  This past spring, 476,277 students took the AP English Language and Composition exam, a huge increase over the 377 students who took the first AP English Composition exam in 1955.

I agree with Dr. Neal’s argument that freshman composition will increasingly be taught in high schools, not in colleges.  I wonder if high school students will take AP English Language and Composition courses or take dual enrollment courses.  Which way of teaching freshman composition in the high school will be dominant in 10 or 20 years?  Or will school districts try to combine AP and dual enrollment in one course, as the Texas district I taught in was beginning to do when I left for FSU?


AP Central – The English Language and Composition Exam.  Retrieved from

AP Course Audit – Online Learning.  Retrieved from

AP Program Participation and Performance Data 2013.  Retrieved from

Jones, J.  (2001).  Recomposing the AP English exam.  English Journal, 91(1), 51-56.

Rothschild, E.  (1999).  Four decades of the Advanced Placement program.  The History Teacher, 32(2), 175-206.

Schwartz, J. (2004).  Confessions of an AP reader.  English Journal, 93(4), 53-57.


Posted by on September 25, 2013 in Uncategorized


11 responses to “Assessment Timeline on Advanced Placement English

  1. DB

    September 26, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Interesting stuff, Amy. I like the use of Dipity, and it’s a cool idea to trace the AP exam. Do you think that 1983 was really the turning point? Maybe you could add something about the significance of the synthesis question.

  2. brucebowlesjr

    September 26, 2013 at 3:44 pm


    I really dug the topic and the way you demonstrated the evolving thinking about AP English.

    Why did the perceptions about elitism change over time?

    As far as a suggestion goes, I’d be interested in knowing more about the debates that went into these pivotal moments–how did we lead up to these?

  3. Bing Bing Liu

    September 26, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    It was a great idea to trace a particular assessment, and see how it began with one purpose in mind, and how that purpose/role has changed over time. Do you see other factors influencing people in beginning to view the AP exam as a way to earn college credit in high school besides the film “Nation at Risk”? To enrich this timeline, you might consider if you can integrate other cultural events into the timeline as a backdrop for the changes in AP.

  4. jeskew2013

    September 26, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    The medium you used is very cool and appropriate. I especially like that you can leave comments on individual sections of the timeline and so facilitate a general and specific discussion at the same time. I wonder, though, what has been happening since 2007 and why you picked that as the last date on your timeline?

  5. andrewdavidburgess

    September 26, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    This timeline is really well done (I’ve never heard of Dipity, but it seems like the perfect timeline platform). I especially like your focus on the shift from AP as elitist to AP as commonplace.

    Question: What might be the points of comparison between AP and dual enrollment, and what might be the ramification of these? Are we at risk of college becoming a three-year thing?

    Suggestion: Maybe look into some of the kickback from WPAs and FYC programs. What effect is the rise of AP having on FYC as a field and why does it matter? And, does AP really prepare students for college or… well, anything?

  6. profkelp

    September 26, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Amy, I think this timeline is simultaneously very professional and very accessible. You did a great job, and I like that you decided to focus on AP English. How did you decide to use Dipity? You might think about including some illustrative images (though, for this specialized topic, they might be difficult to find). Great job!

  7. jc12t

    September 26, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Looking at the evolution of the AP test is, in my opinion, a great idea–especially since this kind of teaching of writing is becoming more widely accepted as an alternative to FYC. My question leads to my suggestion: what are some of the strands of thought that are going on in this timeline–meaning, how do some of these points connect with others, conceptually. My suggestion would be to explore how to represent these connections in your timeline.

  8. jasonecuster

    September 26, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Comment: I’ve never heard of Dipity before! Great to learn about a new tool!
    Question: Have there been any newer moves in this you could cover? Recent things like this can be hard to trace in research, but I think it’d be great to add as much of the modern as possible.
    Suggestion: I don’t know that this is something you could change since it’s on the side of the web site, but the visual representation makes some bubbles look bigger than others, and I didn’t know if you intended that.

  9. jacobwcraig

    September 26, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Comment: Like everyone else, I’ve never heard of Dipity, and I think that I might implement this in a course that calls for the use of a timeline. More to the content, I had never really thought of AP English as an elitist practice. To me, it’s always seemed tangled up with college-for-everyone and not so much college-for-these few. How do you see those myths playing out in the timeline.
    Question: I was also wondering about strands, too. It’s probably just a result of the way Dipity works, but I was looking for connecting points between your well-developed plot points.
    Suggestion: I was wondering if there are some persuasive figures and charts that you might include. I’ve seen some that try to correlate AP with college success, but your project seems like something. If there are figures about AP and income level (cost, maybe?) those would be interesting to see.

  10. amypiotrowski

    September 27, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Thanks, everyone, for the helpful feedback! I’ve made a few additions to my timeline.

  11. jeffnaftzinger

    October 9, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Comment: Like everyone else, I think you did a great job finding the perfect medium for this assignment. As someone who took AP English, it was interesting to see the evolution of the course.
    Question/Suggestion: Did you look into the evolution of Dual Enrollment courses at all? At my high school, dual enrollment was the more “practical” choice, while AP was the more challenging choice. I think it would be really interesting to see how the evolution of dual enrollment courses looks when compared to that of the AP courses.


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