I’ve recently entered the AP universe, taking on my first AP teaching assignment, and I’ve been asked by fellow teachers, friends, and family about whether I had to have special qualifications or endorsements to teach AP courses.
Based on my experience and research I’ve done, I put together some answers to questions I’ve heard about teaching Advanced Placement courses.
Do teachers need special qualifications to teach AP?
The College Board does not require teachers to hold special qualifications to teach AP. The College Board offers professional development opportunities throughout the year as a way for new and veteran AP teachers to gain experience, but these are suggested and not required.
Do you need a masters to teach AP?
Advanced Placement courses cover advanced subject-based concepts, and a masters degree could help a teacher develop that knowledge, but a masters degree is not required to teach AP.
What types of AP training can I take?
The College Board offers training and professional development throughout the year. You can also join AP teacher communities through the College Board and also on Facebook. Some organizations like the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) offer AP trainings, but those are limited to teachers who work at NMSI partner schools.
Is teaching AP harder than regular or honors classes?
Teaching Advanced Placement courses could be considered harder than other non-AP courses, but it could also be classified as just different. Ultimately, this would depend on the teacher and the coursework.
AP can be considered harder because the content itself requires advanced content knowledge and because teachers are preparing students for a test at the end. I find the prep work and grading more intense for AP.
The stakes are also higher with a test at the end. Even though my administration doesn’t pressure me with a test “pass rate,” I put pressure on myself to meet or beat the national average. This has made teaching AP harder for me than when I taught a comparable honors course.
However, due to the plethora of AP resources and training, AP could also be considered easier — or just different than non-AP courses. With AP, my course has added purpose and rigor than my previous honors course. I am not prepping and teaching in a bubble — I can compare my students on a national level.
Would it be difficult to teach AP as a first-year teacher?
Thinking back to my first-year self, I would have definitely struggled teaching AP as a first-year teacher, but I would have survived and learned a lot. Ultimately, it will depend on the teacher and the AP content. I know several first-year AP teachers who are both surviving and thriving.
Training and collaboration with colleagues is essential. The famous teacher phrase “Beg, borrow, and steal” will definitely help a first-year teacher survive an AP teaching assignment — check out online communities for help, lesson ideas, and general support!
Do teachers who teach AP classes get paid more?
This will depend on your school or state. My school is part of a grant that pays AP teachers $100 for each passing score, but after that, we receive no bonus for teaching AP. I’ve heard of other districts offering incentives, but this is the exception and not the norm.
As always, check with your school and state licensing board to see if they have specific requirements for AP teachers. And, while you ask, look into district or state funding to attend AP conferences–many schools pay for this training so you wouldn’t have to pay out of pocket. These College Board trainings are invaluable for teachers new to AP and also for veteran teachers.