Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Studies Find Benefits to Advanced Placement Courses

According to an article in the Washington Post my Jay Mathews...Good Scores on AP Exams Correlate With Better College Grades and Graduation Rates, Data on Texas Students Show

Read the complete article here.

14 comments:

3291asiber said...

Note well the Good Scores part of that headline! CCPS has been focused on packing students into AP classes, but has dragged its feet (kicking and screaming) about things like tracking student scores as a matter of overall review. Parents want to know in which classes, and under which teachers, were good scores being attained…and CCPS ought to want to know that, too. It’s impossible to improve a program if it is never responsibly evaluated.

imissjerry said...

"strong evidence of benefits to students who participate in both AP courses and exams in terms of higher GPAs, credit hours earned and four-year graduation rates."

"The larger Texas study also found that even a score of 2 out of a possible 5 points on an AP exam correlates with better college performance than that achieved by students who did not take AP or who skipped the AP exam;"

I won't deny that it would be great for our A.P. students scores to qualify for college credit these studies show that students clearly benefit from taking A.P. courses. Certainly one could argue that students who score higher on A.P. exams benefit more and perform even better in their college courses but how much of that is a product of ability and how much is a product of instruction?

3291asiber said...

Excellent question. What we should be interested in is the pairing of the two: ability and instruction. As I said, it is impossible to improve a program if it is never responsibly evaluated.

imissjerry said...

It would be easy to deliver high scores. Just screen heavily who takes A.P. courses and only encourage the cream of that crop to take the exam. That's what schools used to do. It meant that A.P. programs were incredibly elitist. Scores would be through the roof.

Of course, large number of kids would miss out on the benefits of A.P. rigor. I think the benefits of encouraging as many students as realistically possible to take A.P. courses far outweighs the cost of diminished scores overall.

LegalBeaglette said...

The success of Jaime Escalante was measured by the students at Garfield High School who passed the AP Calculus exam, and his students were not what educators would characterize as “cream of the crop.” That pairing of ability and instruction produced results that dumbfounded The College Board, made national news, and prompted a movie.

These were not students that The College Board, or educational experts, had thought could master advanced, college-level academics. From what I’ve read, Mr. Escalante thought they could, though, and encouraged his students to believe they could…and it was hard work by both teacher and the students that led to the laudable successes of the Garfield High School AP program.

But note we’re talking about “successes.”

Jay Mathews, columnist for The Washington Post, has repeatedly stated his belief that students who struggle in an AP course, but flunk the exam, are better off than if they had not taken the AP course at all.

Mr. Richmond is quoted by Mr. Mathews as saying “…We had a lot of kids not being challenged to their fullest potential, and I believe that with the right teachers and academic support, 99 percent of the students can be very successful in more challenging classes like AP. Kids need to be pushed academically.” “AP Courses Not for Everyone, Educator Says,” Washington Post, 8/5/2003

All of life’s experiences which test and challenge us also change us. But I think the key word in Mr. Mathews’ belief statement is “struggle,” and in Mr. Richmond’s quote “challenged.” I think we do the students in AP a disservice – all of them – if the progress of the class is impeded by an ill-prepared instructor, or by students who cannot, or will not, apply themselves to the work. If CCPS students are not succeeding in AP as Mr. Richmond stated he believed they could (and I won’t hold him to that “99%”), then don’t we have an obligation to try to understand why? Is it a lack of “the right teachers?” A lack of “academic support?” What?

imissjerry said...

legalbeaglette "I think we do the students in AP a disservice – all of them – if the progress of the class is impeded by an ill-prepared instructor, or by students who cannot, or will not, apply themselves to the work."

It is absolutely incumbent upon the instructor to uphold the expectations and standards of the A.P. programs. An A.P. teacher also has a responsibility to offer support for their students in order to help them be successful within those expectations. It is the student's responsibility to raise the level of their effort and performance to meet those standards.

I also believe that exam scores are not the only measure of success. If taking A.P. courses results in a student being better prepared for college regardless of their score on the exam how could that not be considered a success?
Remember, some of the students who are enrolled in A.P. courses are as young as 13-15 when the year begins. Is it not reasonable to define success for those students the same way as you would definite it for a 17-18 year-old senior. Developmentally their is a HUGE difference in these age groups.


I also do not understand is how it can be considered an indictment of either a teacher or the system if a student in an A.P. class chooses to not apply themselves.

imissjerry said...

Edit my above statement to say "It is not" rather than "Is it not"

Jennifer said...

3291asiber, legalbeaglette, & imissjerry
I love the dialog and being able to view both perspectives to this issue. I'd like to add...I have heard numerous complaints from high-achieving students and some AP instructors themselves over the last few years stating that since we (CCPS) started pushing for more students to take the AP courses that the progression of the class HAS been impeded. In other words the teachers have had to slow down to accomodate the students that really aren't at that higher level of learning. Some have complained that all the material needed to successfully pass the exams were not covered because of this slower progress. Statistically, although the numbers taken the courses have increased, our scores have suffered. Imissjerry - I hear your point as well. These mid-level students need to be challenged but should it be at the cost of our high-achievers? You stated hold the teachers and students accountable. Any suggestions or ideas?

imissjerry said...

A.P. teachers are in a somewhat precarious situation. On the one hand they really do have a responsibility to keep up the pace and rigor of instruction necessary for an A.P. course. On the other hand, they have students in their A.P. classes who have a difficult time keeping up.

Teachers should make themselves available for additional help outside of class time when possible to support those struggling students. It is the student's responsibility to avail themselves of those opportunities.

Again, though it is my opinion that test scores are not the only measure of success.

LegalBeaglette said...

Anyone catch "To Be AP, Courses Must Pass Muster" [The Washington Post, 3/25/07]?

I'm not sure I understand how the College Board's audit process will be enforced. How will parents and students know whether a course/instructor has been approved?

Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer:

Please get the scores for the last 2006-2007 school year AP tests.

I agree that a teacher should help a student (within the time frame of the class). But, they should also be able to remove students that obviously do not have the intelligence to handle the class.

Average students in AP classes is a train wreck waiting to happen. They slow down the pace of the class. This causes a lapse of the material that needs to be mastered for students to successfully achieve a score that their college will accept for credit.

Teachers must have some sort of performance appraisal that will include the achievement of their AP students and scores on the tests.

If a teacher is leading the students to an average of a "2" or below on the AP tests, they should be relieved by a more capable teacher.

Secondly, AP test scores should be available to the public as they may choose to send their kids to CSM to pick up some college credit that will transfer to a school of their choice, rather than betting the farm on an AP test at the end of the year that may or may not allow the student to receive college credit.

So Jennifer, could we have a copy of the test results?

Pretty please!!! :)

Jennifer said...

Anonymous,
MOst definitely, as soon as they are given to us. They are usually presented to us in August or September. My daughters haven't even received their results in the mail yet. Anyone else received theirs?

Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer:

Please post a link to the AP scores for the counties and subjects in the State of Maryland as soon as you can.

Jennifer said...

Will do. Haven't received them as of yet.