Falling Behind in AP Stats? Here’s What to Do.

A polar vortex leads to 12 snow days. The school band trip steals your students for a week. It’s your first year teaching AP Stats and you have no idea what you’re doing.

Whatever the reason, there are times when we have to make hard decisions about content and pacing. What do you keep and what do you let go?


KEEP: Solid conceptual understanding of inference

You absolutely must spend your time developing the conceptual and computational understanding of confidence intervals and significance tests. These concepts are best developed with one sample procedures (1 proportion z-interval and test, 1 mean t-interval and test). Do not cut out lessons here.Spending the extra time developing good fundamental understanding will actually save you time when you get to two-sample inference, chi-square tests, and inference for linear regression. Develop your process (we use the 4-step) and help students write solid conclusions.


KEEP: Time for AP Exam Review

If the goal for your students is to do well on the AP Exam, you must make time for a comprehensive exam review (two weeks minimum!). It is worth moving quickly through content or even skipping some content to make time for this review. The review is the time when students fill in gaps from their learning and develop a big picture view of the entire course. This big picture view is critical for success on the AP Exam, as students will need to be able to read a question and quickly assess where it fits in the course. Students that learn content in silos (chapters) without time to put it all together are at a serious disadvantage. We use the Stats Medic AP Exam Review Course in the last few weeks before the AP Exam.


Disclaimer before moving forward: We are not suggesting that it is best to let go of the following ideas. We are only saying that if you end up in a time crunch, these are the first ideas to let go. :)


LET GO: Developing formulas for two sample inference

In an ideal pacing scenario, we have time to help students develop deep understanding of the formulas for two-sample inference. But if you are limited in time, you can shy away from this. It is most important that they can check conditions and make conclusions. The calculation part of the process CAN be handled by the calculator. Focus time on making sure that students know how to interpret the numbers given by the calculator.


LET GO: Linear regression inference

Well…not all of it. But you don’t have to spend time with the conditions or the formula for the standard error of the slope. Stick only to understanding MiniTab output and how it can help students to construct a confidence interval or do a significance test for slope. You can also get away with only spending one day on nonlinear data, making sure that students understand how to make predictions using inverse operations (log, 10^ and ln, e^).


LET GO: End of year project

We love the idea of students being able to apply their learning in a context that they care about. We love the idea of students doing an observational study or experiment to collect data. We love the idea of students making conclusions based on the data. Is this necessary to do before the AP Exam? Probably not. Try moving this project to the week after the AP Exam.


LET GO: Two quizzes and one test for every chapter

So you may not use this many assessments, but let’s try to get creative here. Give a take home quiz to save a day (I promise students will do well on this one). Use short 5 - 10 minute assessments each day instead of using full days for quizzes. Consider giving no formal assessment for the linear regression chapter.


Good luck as you work towards getting caught up. If you end up teaching new content all the way up to the AP Exam, consider assigning your students the Stats Medic AP Exam Review Course as scheduled homework during the two weeks before the AP Exam.

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