College Board: Rise in students in AP classes accompanied by rise in performance

Earlier this month, I linked to a controversial essay in the Atlantic by a former college professor and high school teacher criticizing Advanced Placement courses.

I introduced the issue by noting that there’s a push under way in Georgia to get more high schools students into AP classes. There is also a debate over whether students fare better taking AP classes at their high schools or taking intro classes at local colleges through dual enrollment

Among the 126 respondents to the entry was Trevor Packer, senior vice president, Advanced Placement and SpringBoard Programs, the College Board.

Because Packer’s comments came late in our discussion, I am pulling them out here for those of you who might have missed them:

By Trevor Packer

The Advanced Placement Program® invites AP® teachers and students to examine multiple sides of an issue — thinking critically, examining evidence, and then arguing with precision and accuracy — and this invitation extends to their views of the AP Program itself. Accordingly, AP evolves from year to year, thanks in no small part to insightful and incisive feedback from educators and youth.

So when I read a recent blog post by John Tierney, I was disappointed that he hadn’t demonstrated the same critical thinking skills we see so effectively deployed by AP students, who recognize that hyperbole and overstatement should be used sparingly, that intellectually honest arguments must be grounded in evidence, and that complex issues require careful thinking.

On behalf of the tens of thousands of AP teachers and students whose classroom experiences Mr. Tierney so unilaterally condemns, I’m writing to provide some evidence intended to describe a much more diverse set of AP experiences than Mr. Tierney allows.

Mr. Tierney says AP courses don’t “hold a candle” to the college course he taught. I have no data about the quality of the course he taught, so can only compare AP courses to the introductory college courses at institutions like Duke, Stanford, University of California–Berkeley, University of Texas at Austin, and Yale, which are among dozens of institutions that each recently piloted AP Exam questions among its own students to confirm comparability of content, skills and rigor. In fact, 5,000 college professors from the nation’s leading colleges and universities participate annually in the review of every AP teacher’s course, the writing of each AP Exam question, and the scoring of the AP Exams. These professors consistently attest to the overall quality of AP teachers’ work and its comparability to the best outcomes of introductory college courses.

These professors recognize that just as there is much variability among the thousands of instructors who teach introductory courses on college campuses, there is variability among AP teachers. And these professors express a wish that there were as much support for quality across the instructors of introductory college courses, many of whom are graduate students teaching their first courses, as there is for AP teachers, let alone a consistent external examination to serve as a reliable and valid measure of learning in such coursework.

After castigating AP teachers, Mr. Tierney condemns AP students as well, claiming that “two thirds” of his own AP students did not belong in his course and “dragged down the course” for students who did “belong there.” Again, I will not claim visibility into his own experience with his own students, but I can say that nationally, there has been a great victory among educators who have believed that a more diverse population could indeed succeed in AP courses. In 2012, AP scores were higher than they’d been since 2004, when one million fewer students were being given access. These outcomes are a powerful testament to educators’ belief that many more students were indeed ready and waiting for the sort of rigor that would prepare them for what they would encounter in college.

Despite educators having doubled the number of underrepresented minority students participating in AP over the past decade, we do share Mr. Tierney’s concern that “large percentages of minority students are essentially left out.” Our data show that among African American, Hispanic and Native American students with a high degree of readiness for AP, only about half of these students are participating, often because their schools do not yet offer the AP course. We call for continued commitment to expanding the availability of AP courses among prepared and motivated students of all backgrounds.

This is not at all the same as claiming that all students, here and now, should be enrolled in AP courses. These are, indeed, college-level courses. The data show this irrefutably. But just as all American students are not yet prepared for college, all American students are not yet prepared for AP course work. We must be vigilant about fostering greater readiness for AP, and then we must care for students within AP courses by providing support, mentorship and encouragement.
This also includes investments in addressing the balance of the breadth and depth required by AP courses. We engage professors and teachers regularly in the review of AP course content, and we find that in most AP subjects, AP teachers and students have significant flexibility to tailor the AP requirements to topics and issues of deep personal interest, while developing a rich understanding of the key concepts and skills in each discipline.

But in science and history, two subject areas that, by their very nature, expand the amount of possible content with every passing day and new discovery, we have recognized a need to implement a significant redesign effort that frees teachers and students from the pressure to cover superficially all possible topics. This redesign has been embraced by higher and secondary education alike as the new “gold standard” in introductory college science and history curricula.

Finally, Mr. Tierney’s financial claims are inaccurate. Contrary to Mr. Tierney’s statement, schools do not pay to offer AP courses. Instead, the not-for-profit College Board incurs the costs to register a school to offer AP courses and to authorize each locally developed AP syllabus, and we subsidize teacher professional development for schools unable to afford to send a teacher to one of the dozens of U.S. universities that train new AP teachers each summer. The AP Exams themselves are optional (80 percent of students opt to take them), and we cover all of our operating costs (developing, printing, shipping, scoring the exams) with the $89 exam fee, which is less than the cost of a typical college textbook, let alone the credit hours for that college course. For students unable to afford the $89 fee, the College Board partners with federal and state and local agencies to reduce the fee (historically to $0–5 per exam). After paying for our expenses with the exam fees, decisions about the use of any remaining funds are decided by our Board of Trustees, which is composed of educators from colleges, universities and secondary schools. Unlike a for-profit entity, where profits privately benefit investors, the College Board is obligated to reinvest remaining funds in educational programs, specifically because it is a not-for-profit organization. The College Board Trustees ensure these funds are used to improve educational opportunity and quality for a diversity of students. This year, they have approved the use of such funds to provide, for example, scholarships to teachers; increased subsidies to low-income students; creation of online score reports for AP students; and online learning supports for students.

The AP Program is not a silver bullet. It is not a simple cure for all challenges we face within our education systems. But as educators use AP standards to help a diversity of students engage in rigorous work worth doing, I find myself inspired daily by what they are achieving.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

50 comments Add your comment

NW GA Math/Science Teacher

October 22nd, 2012
6:04 am

So, should I advise my students who might be taking AP exams to try and start with an Ad hominem attack? I should also hope that they would also employ a bit more textual reference in their argumentation from evidence. I think I see a few other fallacies there, but I gotta go teach some math classes…

Fled

October 22nd, 2012
6:24 am

Well-done, Maureen. You know you’ve hit a target when an educrat pipes in to defend his revenue stream.

In his role as mouthpiece for the College Board, Mr. Packer offers no data to support his claims about how much professors love AP courses. Among the many questionable claims Mr. Packer makes is the following: “These professors consistently attest to the overall quality of AP teachers’ work and its comparability to the best outcomes of introductory college courses.” The point that the original author was making is in fact that professors do not feel this way. In the absence of research supporting Mr. Packer’s claim, I suppose we just have to choose whom to believe.

Anyone interested could find a view of AP grading from a professors’ view at this link:

http://www.dartblog.com/data/2008/08/007921.php

Here’s another view of the very serious nature of grading these exams:

http://csl10.blogspot.com/2012/06/ap-grading-fun.html

Many other articles are readily available to anyone who cares.

In college-level English courses, students learn that to assert is not to prove. Did Mr. Packer not learn that?

catlady

October 22nd, 2012
6:48 am

But, but, this doesn’t support the “schools are failing” meme!

Dr. Monica Henson

October 22nd, 2012
8:11 am

My understanding of the research supporting AP has always been that students who complete an AP course, regardless of how well they score on the AP exam, are far more likely to go on and complete a bachelor’s degree. For that reason, I have favored “open enrollment” in AP. As an administrator, this has caused me many a dispute with AP teachers who wanted to keep out any student who didn’t already bring high grades and teacher recommendations. I’m not in favor of watering down the content or dumbing down the course, but many AP teachers I’ve dealth with also want to preserve that “100% of kids score 4 or 5″ track record they’d developed over the the years. I saw many AP teachers who saw AP as an ivied tower in which to keep classes very small and filled with nothing but high-achieving, well-behaved students. My view is that high school should be a pump, not a filter, and I extend that view to AP as well. If a student can’t cut the mustard in AP, then s/he should fail it–but s/he should at least have the opportunity to try if s/he wants to.

guest

October 22nd, 2012
8:23 am

Good point Monica,

AP classes shouldn’t be this super exclusive club for the so-called smart kids. In my experience, these kids and teachers were not smarter than the others. I personally don’t see why we can’t just raise class difficulty across the board. There’s a reason why the U.S. continues to fall in the rankings compared to other countries.

Catherine

October 22nd, 2012
8:29 am

Of my two children one took 6 AP classes, the other took none. The first passed all the tests with 4s and 5s and passed out of Eng. comp, US history, government, calculus, stats, and one other I can’t remember, 18 credit hours in all her freshman year, and could then take classes that interested her instead of the basic core curriculum. The other child took no AP and instead took the intro Eng. comp, US history, government, math in college. Found they were basically a repeat of what he had in high school, and an easy A. So what’s the point? Some kids are real go-getters and always look for a challenge, others aren’t and are happy taking the easier route. Both graduated college on full HOPE scholarships and are happy today. Different strokes for different folks.

RCB

October 22nd, 2012
8:32 am

Pumping diversity into AP courses, only for the sake of diversity, will only make these courses average. Look for AP classes to be gone in the next 10 years.

Whirled Peas

October 22nd, 2012
9:15 am

“that a more diverse population could indeed succeed in AP courses.”
You know that when they are worshiping the god of diversity they are devotees of the liberal establishment. Everything coming from this guy is suspect.

Private Citizen

October 22nd, 2012
9:49 am

recognize that hyperbole and overstatement should be used sparingly, that intellectually honest arguments must be grounded in evidence

The well intentioned man is a little off-base / one-sided here and his approach does not have appropriation or dominion over valid expression.

Let me explain, there are too types of written expression, that that use precise information and statistics, etc. The other is expression of feeling, which can easily be undermined and dismissed as “hyperbole” etc. by the statistics crowd. Obviously the main article writer has no agenda to exploit anyone and has every good intent. The thing I like about him is that he is not in the business of harassing teachers with required rituals.

Mr. Packer, I know you’ll be reading this, nice to meet you. There are a lot of public health concerns and well-being of children concerns that we do not have evidence on here in the state of Georgia. No one really cares to quantify it or provide this information. If you go to a graduate school of education in Georgia and tell them you want to get a team of people to go out into the field and obtain this information, they’ll tell you to go study Race To The Top, or Value Added Metrics instead. Maybe hyperbole is a starting point to get to precise information. Thank you for shepherding AP and high performance. There’s a coming shortage of doctors. Tag, you’re it. You get to build them and prepare them for chemistry, biology, and social ethics for service so that they do not wander off into the mist and only serve rich people and their own personal income. Maybe you can make an AP class, “Should doctor make more than $500k / year?” combined with “Why is doctor paid $100k/year while the people coming in pay thousands every day, where does it go?” Since you’re a director of AP, I’m certain this approach is not over your head.

If an AP student does not have eyeglasses and his/her family is unable to buy them ($200.?), where does he/she obtain them? If they’re a smart AP student in Georgia, they best start raking leaves.

Private Citizen

October 22nd, 2012
9:58 am

FYI Readers. What / who is the “College Board”

The College Board is a for-profit membership association in the United States that was formed in 1900 as the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB). It sells standardized tests used by academically oriented post-secondary education institutions to measure a student’s ability.

In addition to managing tests for which it charges fees, the College Board works with programs that claim to increase achievement by poor and minority middle and high school students.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_Board

northern neighbor

October 22nd, 2012
10:04 am

If your high school has very good AP teachers, take AP courses. I think nothing beats taking an AP course from a competent teacher. Small class size, personal attention, the teacher knows you personally. If you are able to take joint enrollment courses at a university, you may consider joint enrollment a reasonable option. Taking joint enrollment courses at community college is not usually a good option.

Private Citizen

October 22nd, 2012
10:05 am

I have a sincere interest to know who provides standardised K12 testing outside of the United States and if they are “for-profit” or how it is done. This is probably not the best forum for this question but I thought I would float the question. Maybe Mr. Trevor Packer knows since he is a sharp fellow and that is the main thing his company does, owns and sells the SAT test:

Its president makes roughly $900,000 in salary, benefits, and perks.
12 of its executives make more than $300,000 in salary and benefits.
Total yearly revenues hover near $600 million.
Students are its main consumers and it charges them $45 each time they use the featured product.
http://am.blogs.cnn.com/2009/12/29/educating-america-the-big-business-of-the-sat/

Private Citizen

October 22nd, 2012
10:17 am

The top five guys at Comcast take home about $2 million each / year, $10 million total. The president of College Board makes less than half what the Comcast guys are paid, although they have in common that they are both in recession proof businesses due to being single provider monopolies in the service market. If anyone knows different, please say so – open for counterpoint. Cult of executive compensation combined with monopoly over market does not = healthy competitive markets / capitalism.

intowner

October 22nd, 2012
10:17 am

I’ve a dog in the fight as my daughter is inclined to take AP over dual enrollment at GSU (her comment: if we could do dual enrollment at Ga Tech i’d bust my hump to jump math classes to get in… And why go dual enrollment when the places i want to go won’t accept the hours?) but that aside:
For all the castigating by learned individuals on this post, the seriously obvious grammar boo-boo’s are a hoot. So much for proofing yer work before you submit it to be evaluted… hahahahahaha
Besides, anyone who’s taken a statistics class knows the old worn out joke about statisticians, speling not included: there are liars, damned liars, and then there are statisticians
Make the decision based upon your kid, your resources, and your *kid’s* end goals.

Private Citizen

October 22nd, 2012
10:24 am

Dr. Henson Open enrolment for AP – great idea, you best post ever. There is also the developing “Coursera” thing where universities offer no-fee online instruction, although I think there may be some questions regarding their actual ability to deliver services. Right now, “Coursera” is going through the blooming-flower stage. I doubt they can back it up and it will probably crash unless they entirely automate it. https://www.coursera.org/ “Take the World’s Best Courses, Online, For Free.” Yeahrrr, right.

Private Citizen

October 22nd, 2012
10:29 am

My friend took freshman composition at Georgia State and it was taught by an immigrant who couldn’t speak English. He wasn’t too strong himself to begin with and it really crippled him. After completing a BA degree he went off and chopped vegetables in restaurant kitchens.

Private Citizen

October 22nd, 2012
10:37 am

Coursera – 10 universities involved and serving 1,700,000 students. (?). Might be interesting for a high school AP teacher to do in-person teaching and use a Coursera course as the framework.

I wonder if the state “Race To The Top” person would still come in and sit in the classroom with their clipboard or laptop and grade the teacher on if they have the “standards” and state provided “essential question” posted on the board. They’ll fire you, too, if you don’t play along.

Private Citizen

October 22nd, 2012
10:44 am

intowner It is kind of tough to review text in the little comment window, but if it was any bigger, we’d all be writing novels on here. Good luck on the way to Georgia Tech. Good idea. If there is any problem, you might have to apply more than once. Stay the course. Congratulations to my family member who recently got accepted to medical school on the second go-around. Got bounced the first time. I think he/she went and re-took some classes or something. Did not flinch, did not veer.

Maude

October 22nd, 2012
10:45 am

It’s common knowledge that AP classes are dummied down in certain metro counties.

catlady

October 22nd, 2012
10:50 am

Will students be “allowed” to fail if the doors are opened to all skill levels, or will the teacher be penalized for not “making” the below average skilled kid pass?

Another comment

October 22nd, 2012
11:22 am

My ADHD daughter has done great in 4 AP courses she got 3 A’s and 1 B. The courses that she has gotten the A’s in she has been one of only two kids in the class receiving a natural A. Of the 3 test grades we have received she only got 2’s. Last year the test was right after we moved she couldn’t remember our mailing address of our new house. We had lived in a rental for 8 months after our house sold while we looked for a house. Very ADHD behavior, not remembering her address, so she made up one still no scores. She doesn’t score well on the AP exams that are hours long due to her severe ADHD. This year her senior year she was going to throw it all away, and just go partial day with no AP classes. I was able to convince her that would not look good to the top tier colleges she had wanted to apply to. She said the school counselor said it was okay. I said did the school counselor go to a top tier school? No. I then told her she should at least do dual enrollment. She is now doing dual enrollment. She has A’s in both her college classes , both have less than 30 students and are taught my American’s that are asst. professors. She will take 3 classes next semester and have a semester of classes that will transfer.

AP courses were not around when I graduated with a Regents Diploma from NY State 35 years ago. In helping my daughter review her AP course work, I found they lacked the critical thinking I was expoXed to at the top Private liberal Arts college I attended.

Private Citizen

October 22nd, 2012
11:22 am

Looks like SAT test has competition from another provider, ACT, unlike Comcast, that is running a monopoly on internet in much of the country. Note: Google Fiber said that wherever they provide FTTH (fiber to the home) they will open up the lines to other internet service providers = diversity and competition of services. Anyone want to start the Georgia FTTH initiative? Somebody (Mary Elisabeth) said that APS is stacked with technology. Unless there is a 1-to-1 ration of students with computers, each student carrying a device, I would not say this is so. Textbooks are obsolete. It makes me uncomfortable, but we must “get used to it.” I should probably be some kind of information technology person in a school system and bring all of this new stuff in – problem is I do not have an I.T. degree. Neither did Thomas Edison.

I like the idea that “charter schools hire people off the streets” as long as it is the streets of Princeton and the people have chemistry / physics degrees and the like. Speaking from experience, going through an ed. training program in Georgia is like a torture chamber and you can get lost in the abyss until someone hobbles together your exit strategy. Required Georgia teacher credentialing university programs are even worse than the things discussed here about the government school systems. The university programs operate in seclusion and students can not just line up their courses, take them, and complete the program. There are many stopping points and approval processes. The ed. training programs are the worst bureaucratic malaise I’ve ever seen, and they generally stay away from the K12 schools. They are many Georgia education professors who have not set foot in a K12 school in the last five or even ten years and they plan to keep it that way. You think I’m making it up? I’m not making it up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omgzk9sQ0eM#t=0m9s

catlady

October 22nd, 2012
11:31 am

Another commenter: Your ADHD daughter may have a tough go at a top level university. Many of them do not provide assistance for disabled students. How good is she at football, crew, or hockey? LOL

GT Alumna

October 22nd, 2012
11:33 am

Where are all these small AP classes? My son’s AP classes are absolutely packed, and he even had to sign up to take one before school beginss so that more students could partake.

As for the “open enrollment” idea, what a bone-head move. There needs to be some semblance of control on who gets in. I don’t care it your red, purple, or green, even Honors courses have a pre-req or some type of logic about whether a kid can handle the course. My son has said on numerous occasions that anywhere for 10-25% of the kids in his AP classes are struggling and it is obvious to him that they are out of their depth. Of course, that is just his opinion… but I dare say, he is closer to the situation than most of the respondents and the writer of this piece.

A reader

October 22nd, 2012
11:46 am

Private Citizen,
Coursera give a certificate of completion but does not offer any college credit. I do not understand how that compares in any way to an AP class or an actual college class.

Not PC

October 22nd, 2012
11:49 am

I teach high school gifted math classes, many of my students are in AP ELA, Science, and Social Studies courses. They make it sound like some lame high school sorority/fraternity rather than a rigorous course with a hard test at the end. I would say only 2-3 per class take the tests.

AP at my high school is more of a parental/student bragging right than actual rigorous academic endeavor.

Private Citizen

October 22nd, 2012
11:59 am

GT Alumna Congratulations and big respect. I think there is something wholesome about being given the chance to fail. I see your point and you are well spoken, however, consider that the 10-15% who are struggling get to see what is demanded of them in a college environment and this gives them a chance to adjust and modify their view / game. I think it would be better for students to “check it out” and fail an AP class than fail their first year of college. Outside the metro areas I have heard a bunch of stories of nice kids from nice families who have a nice high school experience and then go to college and get smashed / fail out and then come back home to their parents. Outside of the school environment, parents have told me this.

There’s the old real-life story about the high school valedictorian who goes off and fails college because they had so little preparation at their high school. I once was a clerk in a law office and one of the attorneys invited me to write briefs, which I did not do although it sure got my attention and there was something good about “the open door.” My highest duty was to go file papers at courthouses and stuff, sometimes in distant places. Scared me to death, to tell you the truth, but I think the message was to take myself seriously.

Private Citizen

October 22nd, 2012
12:08 pm

A reader I’m not saying Coursera = credit for a class, but do you not think there can something good to the course information being sourced on a good-will basis from a top program per content? At the least, the Coursera course content will be current / “cutting edge” etc. I think it is a valid idea to use a Coursera course as a framework for a high school AP class. Let me find an example. How about the first one I see? https://www.coursera.org/course/sustain The credit could be given by the supervising teacher for the work the students do, generating questions, writing papers, doing projects, etc. but the course content could come from the Coursera course instead of being shackled to the state K12 doctrine / review / dated approach and all of those horrific buzzwords and rituals that seem to come from an over-ripe stew pot. :-)

Private Citizen

October 22nd, 2012
12:10 pm

I like this.

Course Syllabus
Week 1: Introduction. Pessimism vs. optimism
Neo-malthusians, J-curves, S-curves and the IPAT equation
Week 2: Population. Demographics and the disappearance of the third world
Demographics, population trends
Week 3: Tragedy of the Commons.
Fisheries, pastures, public vs private solutions
Week 4: Climate Change. The climate of the near future: hot, hotter, or hottest?
Weather vs. Climate, Proxy and data climate evidence, Climate projections
Week 5 : Energy. What happens when we reach “Peak Oil” Renewable energy: is there enough to make the switch?
Peak Oil/Fossil Fuel, Energy survey, availability, and density, EROI
Week 6: Agriculture and Water. Is there enough water and food for the 21st Century?
GMOs and the Green Revolution, water stocks and flows – physical and social constraints
Week 7: Environmental Economics and Policy. Can economists lead the way to sustainability?
Environmental Evaluation, project and policy evaluation, Incentive policies
Week 8: Ethics and Culture and Measurement. The long view
Carbon Footprints, Energy and water efficiency metrics, Sustainability Ethics, Environmental ideology and conservation movements

Private Citizen

October 22nd, 2012
12:15 pm

I looove this.

https://www.coursera.org/course/operations
Course Syllabus – The course is broken up into six modules:

Introduction
Process analysis
Productivity
Responsiveness
Quality
Product variety

What resources will I need for this class? You will need access to a spreadsheet program, some paper, and a pencil. Nothing more.

William Casey

October 22nd, 2012
12:22 pm

I taught A.P. History courses from 1983 until my retirement in 2006. I remain a sincere advocate of the program.

“My son has said on numerous occasions that anywhere for 10-25% of the kids in his AP classes are struggling and it is obvious to him that they are out of their depth. Of course, that is just his opinion… but I dare say, he is closer to the situation than most of the respondents and the writer of this piece.”

I believe that your son has it about right, perhaps even underestimating the percentages a bit, at least in my experience (open enrollment at Chattahoochee and Northview high schools.) That is what is SUPPOSED to happen and is one of the great values of A.P. Many a smart kid gagged on the pace of my A.P. American history course and the amount of careful reading required outside class. Most had adapted by November 1. A.P. inspires a work ethic. At least mine did.

William Casey

October 22nd, 2012
12:25 pm

@PRIVATE CITIZEN: “I think it would be better for students to “check it out” and fail an AP class than fail their first year of college.”

AMEN+++

Private Citizen

October 22nd, 2012
12:25 pm

PS I am a believer in using at least some course content that is well ahead of the student’s current mode and orientation as this sets a horizon and reference point for the class that makes the daily work more serious. My experience with this teaching approach is that in a supportive environment where they are taken seriously, kids “dig in,” although it may make some administrators uncomfortable because the course information exceeds the orientation of the administrators. Kids prosper when given challenging material and are allowed to work within their comfort zone. I might call this “differentiated instruction” applied to content. In some regard, it is planting seeds and a sort of time-bomb that leads to prosperity at a later time. Kids are not graded on right / wrong, but on effort and development.

Private Citizen

October 22nd, 2012
12:27 pm

William Casey, thanks.

William Casey

October 22nd, 2012
12:29 pm

I caught considerable grief at some points in my A.P. teaching career when some students who had never made anything but “A’s” scored 65% on my first test. My retort always was: “Better disappointment now rather than on the AP Exam or in college.”

[...] Earlier this month, I linked to a controversial essay in the Atlantic by a former college professor and high school teacher criticizing Advanced Placement…  [...]

bootney farnsworth

October 22nd, 2012
1:29 pm

every time I see the word “diversity” used as a noun I cringe. “diversity” for the sake of “diversity” is social engineering, not educating.

I also have a strong reservation about AP courses in HS. its been my experience far too many students who have no business in AP courses are put there by administrators engaging in AP inflation.

AP courses are a great thing for kids who are willing and able to handle the load. but they need to be restricted to only the top achieving kids who want to participate. it doesn’t serve anybody to kill a solid B student by trying to turn them into AP students to satisify “diversity” or some admin’s numerical goal.

Dawg67

October 22nd, 2012
2:05 pm

Disappointed that Packer is being attacked just because he is from College Board (a non profit organization), without focusing on his information and data. Tierney gives no facts, only a long diatribe about his dislike of the program. A good viewpoint is from Washington Post writer Jay Mathews, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/class-struggle/post/a-sad-attack-on-advanced-placement/2012/10/20/b3203928-1757-11e2-a55c-39408fbe6a4b_blog.html.

Ernest

October 22nd, 2012
2:22 pm

Bootney, in your scenario, who decides (has the final say so) whether a student should have the opportunity to take an AP class? If full information and proper expectations have been provided to the student/family and they still want to move forward, should a school official tell them they can’t take the class? I agree with William’s comments @ 12:19, better to find out in high school than in college.

Private Citizen

October 22nd, 2012
3:00 pm

Dawg67 College Board is a for-profit company. I do not think Mr. Packer is being “attacked” by the posting of information about the company he works for. Readers and consumers should be informed of who is providing services. There are plenty of “non-profit” organizations with the cult of executive compensation.

Bloomberg has something to say on it. College Board http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-18/not-for-profit-college-board-getting-rich-as-fees-hit-students.html Executive compensation at non-profits http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-17/nonprofit-ceo-pay-topping-1-million-rises-with-scrutiny.html

Just saying, be informed, keep your eyes open.

Private Citizen

October 22nd, 2012
3:03 pm

Dawg67 Excellent article from the Washington Post. Thanks. “Tierney should visit Fairfax County, which in 1998 adopted the AP-for-anybody policy he dislikes.”

Ernest

October 22nd, 2012
4:16 pm

I concur with respect to the Jay Matthews article in the Washington Post. I also liked many of the comments made by parents such as being strategic in determining which classes to get college credit for and which to take again for a deeper understanding (and hopefully an easy A).

ATL Born and Raised

October 22nd, 2012
4:19 pm

@William Casey That was the issue with AP at Northview. I didn’t see the point in torpedoing my GPA for the “prestige” of AP classes on my resume when all the teachers were trying to scare you about how hard college was going to be by failing everyone. When I was applying for college it seemed all the admissions councils cared about was GPA and extracurriculars so I focused on As in my regular classes, lettering in a sport, and working full-time during the summers.

AP classes aren’t comparable to college classes anyway. You don’t go to class everyday in college, you aren’t juggling seven other classes simultaneously, professors don’t care about attendance, and most don’t even assign homework or care if you do it. Even in law school I didn’t feel as hassled as I did in my AP class. But maybe that was just Northview.

Lee

October 22nd, 2012
6:28 pm

So, the question remains, if ADVANCED Placement classes are good enough for high schoolers, then why can’t the ADVANCED elementary students be allowed to move on as their ability/achievement dictates? Instead, schools stuff them into “balanced classrooms” and drain every bit of the joy of learning from their souls.

Inquiring minds and all that….

Dawg67

October 22nd, 2012
7:31 pm

Private Citizen: Actually, CB is a not-for-profit entity, as stated in the Bloomberg article, and in their information, so I believe I am informed. You may believe it acts as a for profit, but that does not make it so. Read Fled’s post, and you will see one example of why I believe Packer is being attacked just for working at CB. While I do not agree with all the CB does, it also puts a great deal of money into helping students, teachers, and education as a whole.

N. GA Teacher

October 22nd, 2012
10:00 pm

I agree that AP classes should be open to those who wish to benefit. Generally, only the brightest and most motivated kids take AP courses because most of the others fear the workload. I have no problem with an average IQ kid who works his tail off and makes a B or C and just manages a 1 on the AP exam. In any case, the teacher must have the right to ban or remove chronic disruptors or anyone who in any way harms the learning process for others (which should be the case for ALL classes but is sadly not). Second, administrators must support the grading results; in other words, they should not pressure the teacher into giving a higher grade, despite parent politics, political correctness, etc. To keep respect of colleges, AP has to maintain its integrity (students must EARN their grades), unlike other courses which lost credibility in the NCLB era. The other issue here is that yes, AP high school courses ARE different that true college courses. High school students get at least 135 hours of mandatory seat time, while college students get 45! While high school teachers are constantly assisting, teaching, exhorting and helping students with assignments, college students have to do all the assignments on their own, which is it itself a skill and academic maturity-building process.

William Casey

October 22nd, 2012
10:39 pm

@ATLbornandraised: You are correct in the differences between AP classes and actual courses at college. I’m a believer in AP for personal as well as professional reasons. I don’t know if you knew my son, Beau, at Northview or not. He was awarded 27 semester credit hours for his AP work. This has enabled him to complete two degrees in four years. He’s a math guy. The other degree will help him stand out from the crowd in math grad school.

Sandy Springs Parent

October 23rd, 2012
12:46 am

@ NW Ga. Teacher, you must be a rare exception. The teacher you describe, does not happen in the crowded and classrooms of the metro area.

Some of the AP teachers are great. Other’s suck royally. Their classes do not resemble a college class at all. They should not be teaching regular High School let alone, a College level AP class.

Many of the classes that are AP classes should be easy classes in college at the intro. level. They are the easy A classes, in college. They are the classes that bring up your GPA. I would warn anyone, against testing out of them and loosing the classes that bring up your GPA. Especially with the Hope Scholarship changes. I hate it when high school teachers say their goal is to sort out who would fail these classes. Their first goal should be to make sure all students have the education to exceed at High School. If a child cannot exceed at High School then they shouldn’t be allowed in. If they are not at the 12th grade reading level they should not be allowed in an AP class. My daughter was the only student in her 10th grade honors English Class who could read at the 12th grade level in 10th grade. 1/2 of the class could only read between the 2nd and the 6th grade, my daughter said it was so said. The teacher said she was outraged that the counseling office put them in her class. The next year they did not offer Honor’s only AP and General. The 10th grade teacher told me she was going to fail half the class if they did not listen and get out of the class, because their was no way they could pass with their lack of reading skills.

I feel strongly that one should develop a love of history by taking World History and US History. My daughter’s AP US History made the class unbearable, and was stiffiling the kids ability to love history. I know that I loved History in high school and college. I took every history elective I could. Even though I was an Architecture major, I took every history related course I could take. I also took Psycology classes in college that were so much more interesting than AP Psy.

Even though my daughter took AP Lit, last year and got an A, she was refusing to take another AP English class. So with the Dual Enrollment she is taking English 1101, she has an A, she is enthused about it. It will count where ever she goes to college.

Private Citizen

October 23rd, 2012
10:38 am

Sandy Springs Parent thought: there’s not an inexhaustible supply of teaching talent out there. mountain man said something about a math teacher having to teach a history course that they were no good at, but when I read that I thought “there was probably no one else to do it at the time and they had to make-do.” There has been a lot of recent regulation of college teaching. Since they signed up to some regulation agency, college / university teachers can not teach a course unless they have the prior degree etc. specifically in the area. This is a nice idea but it roots out a lot of multi-talented individuals and can replace them with pedestrians. It also make management any elementary affair suited to whoever they plug in as dean. There is a story from decades ago about some luminary, nobel prize winner or somesuch who could not teach a college class because they lacked a couple of the required course for themselves, but meanwhile they had done major work in the field, but were prohibited from teaching it in this circumstance. At 50 or 70 years old or somesuch, they were not going to “go back and take the classes” for this requirement, so it was a complete loss.

With so much outside violation of learning communities, there is often not a chance to build school environments where the adult talent can bloom. In these current circumstances, I would say there is a very high degree of instability for workers. Another thing is that middle managers are denied the authority to sign off on things, make things happen, adjust as needed. I worked in a school where the principal assembled a top team and I was one of them and we achieved very high results. After this we were basically screwed around. It took me a while to figure out what happened. I think our impressive results at the regular school threatened the performance of the schools they were used to promoting as the shining stars. Our team equalled their performance. So they disassembled our team. Therefore, I hope charter schools displaces them and returns the favor, as I am not willing to play such politics.

If you want good teachers in the way you describe, someone is going to have to stop destabilizing learning environments, and give the administrators in the building the ability to make decisions and build and keep a quality environment. The principal in the high performing Finnish school said it clearly, “No politician tells me what to do.”

Ole Guy

October 27th, 2012
1:59 pm

Does this come as a supprise? Those who display a modicum of desire…like STUDY, STRIVE FOR LIFE’S CHALLENGES, and tackle the tough courses…will be the winners, both in school and in life. Rather than waste…yes, waste…time and resources on the underachievers, lets foster these kids. Whether in AP class or in a standard curriculum class, lets remove those who, by their very behavior, have no desire to be there. Get rid of the disrupters and the kids who WANT to be there…AP or standard curriculum…will be winners.