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Topic: AP Theatre Course

1.  AP Theatre Course

Dear All, 

This is my first time on open forum, so I hope this isn't a repeated question. Does anyone know if an AP Theatre course through College Board is in the works? I know that we have music theory and art history, but no theatre.  How would one go about making that happen for our students?


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Catharine Rademacher

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2.  RE:AP Theatre Course

This is something I've been interested in for a long time. I know there is an exisiting IB Theatre course, but there is not equivalent AP. I teach in a school system that is very big on the AP classes and in some ways, if you don't have one in your subject area, lots of kids feel they can't continue in their study of Theatre. I've answered every survey I can think of asking EdTA to advocate for this, but there may be such a small slice of us doing this that the College Board doesn't see the point. I'd be happy to support any drive for this or National Board Certification.

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Jessica Speck

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3.  RE:AP Theatre Course

I would be on board to help support getting this approved.  My school is also very big on AP courses.  

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Kristi Jacobs-Stanley

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4.  RE:AP Theatre Course

So, does anyone know what the next step is?  I would love to be part of the creation of this course.

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Laura Hackman

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5.  RE:AP Theatre Course

I'd like to know more about AP Theatre!

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Sonja Brown, Theatre Teacher
Phoenix High School



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6.  RE:AP Theatre Course

Most advanced placement classes prepare students for an AP test that will count for college credit.  What elements of theatre would be required to know and what skills?  A basic Physics course in college will be pretty much the same as any other Physics of the same level anywhere.  But Theatre is such a big field of study, where would you start?

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Eric Levin
Southern Oregon University


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7.  RE:AP Theatre Course

I can relate to some of Jeff's comments and agree with the views Brooke and Bob and many have expressed...

While I may come off as extreme and idealistic, I wish this topic would become the main goal of the EdTA until the College Board offers an AP in Theatre (and/or Theatre & Dance). I am sad to admit I stopped writing letters about 7 years ago to the College Board, EdTA, ETS, and NJDOE about this matter when I heard a study was possibly being conducted. Obviously, a test did not result from the talks.

It is sad to think we need and AP exam.

But, it is clear that because of longstanding national trends an AP exam awards the "stamp of legitimacy" to a discipline in the eyes of building and district administration and the regional LEAs. During my wait for one to be created, I was able to arrange a partnership with a local university so for the last 7 years my theatre arts program has been accredited in a way that our senior level fulfills 2 semesters of the university's introductory theatre courses. Our students are dually enrolled their senior year of high school and receive 6 college credits on official transcripts noting them as first year college students. I am sure many of you have the same setup and know that for the most part credits from a university are transferable to whatever college/university a student chooses to attend.

A big HOWEVER-
While the partnership is wonderful, I can tell you for certain that in the eyes of the administration and the LEA, it is meaningless compared to the AP exam because of school rankings. Regularly, a student will be pushed out of my program along with the opportunity of earning 6 college credits just so he/she can be enrolled in an AP course so that the school/district and note higher AP enrollment and boost rankings. This process hurts our discipline and more importantly does not put the students' educational interests first.

Perhaps this new Forum could be the spark for this important issue. I would gladly help and contribute my time.

Best,
Danny

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Daniel Paolucci
Theatre Arts Specialist
JCArts High School Program
Jersey City Public Schools
dcpaolucci@...
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8.  RE:AP Theatre Course

I'm very much with Jessica on this issue. The current trend sure does seem to be toward promoting AP Courses at the expense of every other course in a high school. I'm seeing my best and brightest steered away from theatre courses and toward AP courses that may or may not have anything to do with their career goals. The advice some students are getting is to take at least 5 AP courses while in high school! Why music and visual arts have AP options but not theatre is a mystery to me. As much as I despise this artificial and ill-conceived trend, I'd like the chance to beat them at their own game. I seem to recall that the college board proposed a Theatre History course several years back. Can we advocate for them to pull it off the shelf and pilot it at least?

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Bob Ramseur

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9.  RE:AP Theatre Course

I am also interested in implementing an AP Theatre course at my school!  I would be interested in working with the college board to help design it as well.  What is the process for getting this going and is there anyone who can tell us how far the process has made it so far?  Is it something the College Board will entertain?

Would love to get this moving!
Thanks for bringing up this issue in Community.

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Brooke Phillips

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10.  RE:AP Theatre Course

From a students perspective, an AP theatre course would be extremely rewarding. Not only would it allow for the deeper dive into the different aspects of theatre, it would be a stress reliever from a junior and/or seniors intense class schedule. Understanding that this dream is far from becoming a reality, it is fascinating to see the connection between theatre education and advocacy from educators across the nation.
Great thread!

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Alex Minton

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11.  RE:AP Theatre Course

I think that this discussion about AP Theatre should be moved to the ADVOCACY forum because you are all so enthusiastic about advocating for AP Theatre. I was also in that same place just last year wishing that there were AP courses in theatre. About five years ago I renamed by advanced class Advanced Performance. After about three years everyone called it AP. Which allowed the kids to say "I want to take AP Theatre" to parents and counselors.Tthe perception was that the theatre class they were taking was as advanced as the English or Statistics class. My administration began to allow smaller numbers (20-25) as they do in the other AP classes. The counselors compared it to AP classes with parents. It was rigorous and yet was a rehearsal and performance based class, not a history and literature course. However to bring any play to fruition you must do the research required in history and literature.

Many students who take College Board AP classes do not take the tests given for one reason or another. Those who do take the test often score in a 1-3 which does not give them any college credit. Therefore, only a small percentage of students who take the AP courses take the test and pass with a grade that will allow college credit. Districts, schools and parents will tell you they still feel they are valuable because of the rigor the students had in the actual class. If my class is just as rigorous why shouldn't it be considered just as valuable even when there is no test at the end. Some colleges will give college credit to the students, but teachers have to individually set that up. Maybe we can do that as an organization!

States, districts, and parents often see these courses as important for one of three reasons beyond college credit: some states give more money to a school based on numbers of students enrolled in AP classes, some districts/states allow AP grades to be given more points on a GPA, and parents view schools with high numbers of AP classes/students as having a more rigorous curriculum.

I agree that we need a theatre AP class and that theatre should have a National Certification as well. First we need to have an endorsement in theatre in every state in the union! Let's all join the ADVOCACY forum and make these things happen!

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Leslie Van Leishout
Theater Education Coordinator
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville


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12.  RE:AP Theatre Course

Wow! These are great responses! Thank you! How do I move this over to advocacy?  I LOVE that you titled your class advanced performance!

Keep the ideas flowing!

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Catharine Rademacher

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13.  RE:AP Theatre Course

A parallel question...will we ever see National Board certification in the subject of theatre? There is such certification for other fine arts areas (e.g. music, visual art).  I've investigated this a couple of times over the years (though,I admit, not recently), even placing calls to NBPTS, who told me that I should either pursue the middle childhood generalist track (I teach middle school) or the career/technical track.  

The course is too rigorous for me to want to invest in anything "general," nor do I view my program as primarily a career/technical track (like many theatre teachers, I have nothing but profound respect for theatre professionals and technicians, but what about "art for art's sake?"  I do not get out of bed on cold Michigan mornings to help in the creation of better workers.  Rather I seek to cultivate better human beings, better thinkers, better citizens, and students with improved aesthetic capacities.)

As far as I can tell this is a path of not only professional enrichment but also (in many districts) increased pay that is open to many of our non-theatre colleagues but, for the forseeable future, closed to those of us who are lucky enough to fill our daily schedules teaching theatre.  

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Ryan Moore

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14.  RE:AP Theatre Course

Been to this rodeo with colleagues several times.

It's always gone nowhere for two main reasons.  First, ETS doesn't foresee its generating enough revenue to justify the costs of developing it - a process which in itself takes years before a test actually goes online.  After all, theatre teachers are far outnumbered by music and art teachers in American high schools.  Second, many college theatre programs have said they wouldn't accept it for credit if it were developed because "we want our students to learn theatre our way."  Of course, that may be a budget-conscious (or even paranoid) way of saying, "We already have such a small enrollment in our classes that funding our department is a problem, and we don't want students skipping one of our classes because they already got AP credit for it in high school."  Fewer students means fewer jobs for professors, right?

It's interesting to speculate what such a course would be.  Didn't most of us have to start in college with "Introduction to Theatre," or something like that, before we could take other, more specialized courses in acting, directing, writing, literature, history, tech, etc.?  The intro course I had to take used a condensed version of Brockett's history book along with an anthology of plays from different periods of Western theatre.  We read some plays, skimmed other plays, and learned about about the history of theatre and the process of making theatre.  Seems as if that might be prime territory for an AP Theatre course.

Maybe one day ETS and the various college programs will see it our way and work with us.

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Jeff Grove
Drama Teacher
Duval County Public Schools


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15.  RE:AP Theatre Course

I read the start of this thread the other day and have been following.  I confess I've been doing a lot of mental eye-rolling.  But ONLY because I feel as if this topic has been brought up more times than I can count and there seems to be no movement and no future for it.

I have been told that they will not issue AP Theatre Classes for teachers without actual theatre degrees. Since there are so many theatre teachers without an actual theatre degrees, it's a conundrum.

I don't know the answer, I would do anything to help and be a part of this crusade--as I also see and hear of so many students migrating from theatre classes to those that 'help' their GPA's (in other words, weighted classes).  I am passionate about the need for this for theatre teachers in our 'AP' world.

Also, starting an IB program is HUGE--it isn't something one teacher can just decide to do--you have to have admin support in a big way.

Great thread!

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Molly Grasso
Nebraska
Papillion-LaVista H.S.


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16.  RE:AP Theatre Course

I agree. Now that we have this forum to communicate to each other, how can we use it to advocate for movement here? I do have a theatre degree, but I'd be surprised if the same thing held in other subjects (for example, I am also a certified math teacher and have taught AP Statistics, but I have many credits in math, but no degree).

I've had administrators tell me for 10 years that AP would be the thing to draw kids to my program, so I'd do anything to get something going...

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Jessica Speck

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17.  RE:AP Theatre Course

This is a fantastic discussion and I love knowing there are so many passionate about this subject! Gai Jones started a new thread in the Advocacy community group and our Director of Educational Policy, Jim Palmarini, shared some important information on the topic. I encourage you all to join the group so you can keep up to date on these types of efforts as well as have a place to come together and share ideas.

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Ginny Butsch
Community Manager
Educational Theatre Association


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18.  RE:AP Theatre Course

Our school recently started doing the Cambridge University classes (AICE) and we have ones like general paper, critical thinking, television production, etc.  I discovered that they had one for Theatre/Drama.  AICE is much like that of an AP class and can give you college credit and also ranks up there with AP type classes.  The only thing is that when I first looked at the requirements it was not appealing to some students and teachers because the class is an entire project.  I understood it to be a 2 year program and you wouldn't receive credit until your 2nd year.  I think they have changed it since then.  So if you are really set on doing an AP type of class you want to have your administration look into the AICE classes.  

Website:   http://www.cie.org.uk/programmes-and-qualifications/cambridge-pre-u-drama-and-theatre-9801/

This is the hand book:   http://www.cie.org.uk/images/93733-2014-2016-syllabus.pdf

Just a thought.

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Ryan Lee

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