My Thoughts on Summer Assignments


Love 'em or hate 'em, summer assignments are a fact of life for many high school students.  Back in the last century (how it hurts to write that), I can recall having one going into my junior year for AP English.  I had to read “The Oresteia” by Aeschylus.  In the pre-internet world, finding a copy of this Greek trilogy was not easy; nor was writing the required essay.  (Which I believe I actually got an F for.  I had NO CLUE what I was doing.  It was a tough class, but I LEARNED and I read a lot of great literature.  Plus I ended up doing okay in the class and will be forever grateful to the teacher [who I now consider a friend] for the experience.)  I was aware of the assignment at the end of my sophomore year and I know that I found and purchased a copy of the play in July (while my family was on vacation at the Jersey Shore).  

My son has two summer assignments.  He has an assignment from his AP Human Geography teacher.  She emailed her incoming students and posted the assignment on Classroom.  She gave very detailed instructions; which I hope my son is following (will follow).  I actually encouraged him to review it BEFORE the end of the school year so that if he had any questions he could talk to the teacher.    He's had this teacher before and I am always impressed with how well thought out her plans are and how organized she is.

His second summer assignment is more complicated.  All students are required to read a book of their choice this summer and then do a written assignment.  This is nothing new.  However, my son was recommended for AP English Lit by his teacher.  The AP English assignment is different than the "regular" English assignment.  The AP assignment requires choosing one of several books to read (all of which have either won or been nominated for literary prizes) as well as reading sections from How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster.  After doing this, they have an assignment that is DIFFERENT than the "regular" English students.  The AP English teacher DID post this assignment to classroom, but with the note:  "Please note that receiving an invitation to join the AP Summer Assignment Google Classroom does not guarantee enrollment in an AP course beginning in September 2022. Class schedules are not yet finalized and will be provided to students in July 2022.

"Your summer assignment is described in great detail on the attached doc.  Please read it thoroughly before beginning.

"Your completed work can be posted here in Classroom whenever you finish, but no later than the Friday of the first week of school."

If I check the list of people associated with this classroom, my son is NOT on it.  However, we do know that the list is not complete AND that this is the summer assignment, NOT the actual classroom for the 2022-23 class.  So how did my son manage to get this classroom on HIS classroom page?  He did his own secretive work (at my prodding) and somehow managed it.  If not at this point we would have NO IDEA what the summer AP assignment is.

I realize that July is not yet over, but the last day of school was a MONTH ago.  That's a month's time that we have been waiting to see if my son is in this class or not, IF he needs to do this summer assignment or not.

While I understand how complex school scheduling can be, even when you have a class of under 150 students, if summer assignments are going to be handed out, then those classes that have assignments should be organized BEFORE the end of the school year.  Students should easily be made aware of what summer work they have and given the full summer to do the work?  Especially when the school pushes hard for students to take AP courses which usually requires work to be done over the summer month.  My son MAY only have 2 AP courses. (Again, we DO NOT KNOW if he is in the AP English class at this time.  And with the push for students to take AP courses by the administration, why wouldn't my son be placed in the class that was recommended by his teacher?)  Can you imagine what the workload might look like if he were taking more?

The process of scheduling classes begins in March, when students and parents meet with guidance counselors.  It is now the end of July and we are still in the dark as to what classes my son will definitely be taking.  (Although I do have a good idea because I took notes.)  This lack of organization is unfair to students and to teachers, but that's just MY opinion.


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