Professional Development for AP Teachers: A Critical Examination Open Access

The expansion of the AP program has placed demands on AP teachers to teach rigorous curricula and support academically diverse learners in high school. This study explores how the Advanced Placement Summer Institute (APSI), is meeting the instructional needs of AP teachers in light of AP program expansion. Desimone (2009) posited that there were five features of professional development that changed teacher practice: content focus, active learning, coherence, duration, and collective participation. Desimone’s framework served as a conceptual lens for this study, along with Yoon (2007), who argued that effective professional development can be linked to student achievement gains. An original survey with closed and open-ended questions was distributed to APSI teacher participants in the spring of the school year following the training, and teachers’ corresponding AP exam scores were gathered for discussion. The researcher sought to determine whether teachers perceived APSI was beneficial, whether it improved perception of ability to support student achievement; what content, pedagogy, and strategies for diverse learners teachers learned and were using in their classrooms. Logistic regression models analyzed the likelihood that teachers would report an extremely beneficial training and perceive that the training supported their ability to improve student achievement, and whether content-rich or pedagogy-rich sessions predicted the outcomes. Findings indicated that the strongest benefits of APSI were gains in teacher content knowledge, but also that pedagogy learned lead to improved teacher perception of ability to support student achievement. There was limited evidence that APSI developed teacher strategies for diverse learners. The College Board has increased access to AP courses through its Equity and Access Policy but this study indicated that APSI is not providing teachers with adequate support in reaching all learners in AP courses. This study contributes to the literature on professional development and provides information on how APSI supports AP teachers’ instructional needs while identifying strategies for diverse learners as an area of needed improvement.

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