Monday, October 22, 2007

Special Ed and HSA's

In an article in the Baltimore Sun today...

Special ed is drawn into exam debate
Parents, advocates split over requiring students to pass tests to graduate

With thousands of special-education students in Maryland high schools failing the state's graduation exams, parents and advocates are deeply divided about whether these students should have to pass the tests.

Read more HERE.


Anonymous said...

I say if the special ed kids have to pass the HSA's, then the AP teachers have to score a "5" or better :) on each prospective class that the teacher teaches.

If not, let them teach "A" level classes.
What wrong with that? Do parents want these teachers teaching their kids the same material that they don't know well enough to pass a high school level test?
I challenge any of them to really embarrass themselves and say that they can't teach it as they aren't "ready", "willing", or "Abell".

What a joke. This whole system feeds itself the brownest of krap and most of the taxpayers are too dumb (probably raise by the same system) to understand the corruption and propaganda machine that does the reporting.

Anonymous said...

You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

LegalBeaglette said...

I think it is a question of expectations. A hypothetical of sorts: If it is not so extraordinary in some people’s minds to require special education students to pass the HSAs to receive a diploma, why would it be extraordinary to expect an AP teacher to pass the course exam for the subject he or she teaches?

In truth, I think it would be a great thing for AP instructors to take the course exam each year. I know a colleague who did just that for the ESOL proficiency exam her college students had to take. She believed it important to ensure that her instructional program prepared her students for passing the exam – which was the purpose of her course.

Anonymous said...

Doing so would be a violation of test security as established by college board for one thing.

LegalBeaglette said...

Anonymous: How about if you go “for another thing…” Your statement that it would be “a violation of test security by college board [sic]” doesn’t address the underlying argument of my belief.

I think there is real concern about the capability of some of these AP teachers. This is an expensive, demanding program. Accountability and program integrity are real issues, and instead of ducking them, school systems need to be facing them.

Anonymous said...

Your argument seems to be based on the assumption that the only true value of an AP course is the exam. It also seems to be placing 100% of the burden for scores on the teachers. Absolutely teachers must be competent both in terms of content knowledge and pedagogy in order to be successful teaching an AP course but that is not the whole picture. As an AP teacher there is only so much I can do. There has to be a certain level of commitment and work ethic on the part of the students. Many of them have these qualities and generally those who do are successful. Many do not, and that is reflected in their scores as well. At the same time I have seen many hard working, dedicated students fall apart on exam day, especially in my course which is frequently their first AP experience. I have also seen students who are taking multiple exams sacrifice performance on one in order to work toward a high score on another. That does not mean however that they did or did not benefit from the course. As an outsider you do not have the opportunity to see these things happen. I'm sure you'll dismiss this post as an attempt to make excuses and rationalize but the fact is you are not in the schools teaching an AP course and as such you cannot have the same perspective. It doesn't make me right. At the same time it gets a little bit old hearing people who have no experience teaching an AP course or teaching period stand outside and criticize teachers who are busting their rear ends day in and day out. For that matter how many AP courses have you taken as a student and how did you perform on the exams?
BTW while college board's testing protocol would prohibit me from taking the exam for my course, I will state with complete confidence that I would get a 5 on the exam.

LegalBeaglette said...

I do not assume that the only true value of an AP course is the exam (but it is one goal, by definition and construction, of the program), nor do I place 100% of the burden for scores on teachers. People familiar with my other posts on this topic would not likely have thought so, either.

You assert “with complete confidence” that your AP exam would rate a “5.” Congratulations on your hypothetical ace; it does not, however, provide anything tangible for students, parents, administrators or the taxpayer to evaluate, does it?

We agree on many things, especially with regard to how such courses should be taught. Where we part views seems to be in the effort to ensure the integrity and equity of the program for all students.

Anonymous said...

Show me one place in any of your posts that you have done anything but question the integrity and competence of teachers. I have read every one of your posts on this subject in this thread and I have yet to see you prior to this one acknowledge that there are any factors at play here other than teacher performance.

Even then your statement is limited a vague statement about people familiar with your other posts. I am very familiar with the posts you have left in this thread.

Anonymous said...

After seeing the scores from years past, I have a big doubt that there is any sort of improvement.

With the influx of new teachers, there is no way to build a base of continuity in the fundamentals, and no one believes that these kids can learn the concepts required in just one year.

The thing you have to wonder is "Why do the chair people of the departments point fingers at teachers, insisting students should have learned the material from years past, but yet, they won't insist on firing incompetent teachers?" They won't stand up to the principals who are good old boys.

There are many things broken in the system, and with average SAT and ACT scores, low AP scores, more and more students requiring remedial classes, one of the best things that could happen would be an over hall of the system from the top down.

MikeB said...

They won't stand up to the principals who are good old boys.

Odd statement, considering three of the six high school principals in Charles County are women.

LegalBeaglette said...

For Anonymous AP teacher:

The comments I have made – in this thread – have been directly related to the idea of AP instructors taking the AP exams.

You have attributed to me views that I do not hold. The quality of AP courses has been questioned, and certainly not just by me. It is the reason the College Board has implemented an audit procedure, which is focused on the content of an instructor’s course. I do not think it a sufficient response, but I support the College Board's effort to promote accountability and program integrity.

That I believe substantive, quantifiable quality controls and evaluation procedures should be implemented for the AP program should not have raised your ire so.

On a lighter note, for MikeB – teachers, administrators and staff often address everyone as “you guys,” so maybe it is not so odd that female principals would be grouped with “good old boys.” ;)

Anonymous said...

The College Board is not going to raise a stink, as the AP Tests are a big business.

They should look at individual classes and the results that they have obtained over a several year period. If they are low, they should ask for the teacher's credentials and ask the person in charge of instruction at the board as to why they continue to allow that teacher to teach that class.

How anyone can defend a teacher that consistently has an average of a "2" on AP exams?

Anonymous said...

If you want average scores above a "2" it's easily done. Go back to the days where AP was the exclusive realm of the hand chosen elite. We could also leave things as they are and discourage all but the best and brightest from taking the exam. Undoubtedly that would lead to higher average scores. It would also deny the benefits of AP to a large number of students who now enjoy them.

You will never convince me that either is in the best interests of kids.

Anonymous said...

How about if I convince you that our County is sucking big time on AP tests when we compare them to Montgomery County and Fairfax County, to name a few? Do they only allow the chosen "Elite" to take the test?

My contention is YES, YES, and YES...
Get these kids that hold classes back as well as incompetent AP teachers out of the classrooms.

This test is not for any kid that can eat and breathe. Neither is a four-year university. What sense does it make for a student to obtain a "C" in an AP class, when they either get a 1 or a 2 on the exam? These AP audits should examine every nook and cranny. There is no reason whatsoever that the classroom grade should not reflect the score on the AP exam.
The teacher should be someone that has a degree in the subject that they are teaching, not just an BS, MA with an APC in education.

With teachers that are more educated in the subject which they are teaching, and, getting students out of the classroom that have absolutely no right to be in the class, the scores will rise, the classroom and AP scores will become more closely correlated, and, the universities will again have faith in the AP exams and what they use to stand for.

Just like everyone that tries out for the football team won't make it; every student that wants to be in an AP class shouldn't be in it.

Anonymous said...

Another comment about this "hand chosen elite".

That's a bunch of crap. Students that work hard and have the IQ to be in the classes will be in the classes.

No one "hand picks" people to be in med school. They work their butts off, and have a higher IQ than most.

Unfortunately for all the "liberal elites out their in blog land", not everyone has the brains to get a job using their brains.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely people are hand-picked for med school on the basis of test scores, college transcripts, applications, and admissions boards. The argument that it is anything but is ludicrous.

Anonymous said...

Students gain acceptance and are not "hand picked".

They qualify themselves through a battery of tests and transcripts.
Which solidifies my argument.

These kids that are pushed into AP classes that don't have the smarts or the determination, "Get them the hell out of the classes".

Two many parents and students complain all the time about lazy or dumb students holding the classes back, hence, forcing an AP instructor to ram-rod material down the classes' throat at the last minute.

Look at the lousy scores, then tell
me that this "AP system" doesn't need fixed in Charles County.
As a taxpayer, I get pissed every time that a kid takes an AP test just because some Ivory-Tower liberal educrat wants diversity in everything including the kitchen sink.

Turn the clock back 10 years and only allow students in these classes that have excelled in the honors classes. Don't allow "C" level students near AP classes.

Anonymous said...

If you read my earlier posts I have stated several times that reducing enrollment would improve scores. I won't argue that.

Where we disagree is over the extent to which the kids benefit from the increased rigor and how many kids should have the opportunity to do so.

Rushing to get to the end of a course has far less to do with slowing down instruction than it does with factors such as disruptions for other mandated assessments, days off in the calendar, weather related school closings, etc.

Anonymous said...

I think that students would be well served taking a rigorous honors class if there was not the committment to successfully complete the AP course curriculum.

Honors classes have been so watered down. It's really pathetic, to say the least. There's no honor in taking honors math and English classes, then having to take remedial classes after graduation where the student is spending money on worthless classes that will not transfer to a four year institution or not count toward a degree requirement.

I think that if a committment of studying the entire curriculum of the AP course, looking to take the AP exam, then the student should be allowed in the class if and only if they have the academic skills and record of determination to achieve a high level of competence with the material.

Another point of contention is that the BOE administration should have to keep an eye on AP teachers that consistently have low average scores in their class.

If a football teams record is below average year after year, they coach get's fired or resigned.
We must put the AP Exam Scores in the same class. Fire or have teachers teach lower level classes if they are qualified to do so.