Monday, July 13, 2009

Should High Schools Bar Average Students From Rigorous College-Level Courses and Tests?

"Some of them object to my methodology." YES Mr. Mathews, and I must agree, I object also.

By Jay Mathews
Monday, July 13, 2009


Fifteen years ago, when I discovered that many good high schools prevented average students from taking demanding courses, I thought it was a fluke, a mistake that would soon be rectified.

I had spent much time inside schools that did the opposite. They worked hard to persuade students to take challenging classes and tests, such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge, so students would be ready for the shock of their first semester at college, which most average students attend. The results were good. Why didn't all schools do that?

I still don't have a satisfactory answer. It always comes up this time of year because of my annual rankings of public high schools for Newsweek, which is based on schools' efforts to challenge average kids as measured by participation in AP, IB and Cambridge tests.

Many school superintendents and principals who run schools that restrict access to those college-level courses and tests have disappointing results on the Newsweek list. Some of them object to my methodology. It is clear from my conversations with them that they are smart and compassionate people.

Read more HERE

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would suggest you email Jay Mathews with your concerns with his approach. I have done so many times. He is open to debate, though don't expect him to change his mind.

Also, he will not print any of your comments without first checking with you. While I don't always agree with him I have found him to be very fair in the way he goes about his profession.

Jennifer said...

I respect Mr. Mathews opinion and have voiced my concerns in the past. As you stated, he is not going to change his mind. I believe we are at a point of impasse and agree to disagree.

Anonymous said...

First let me say CCPS does not have "rigorous college-level courses" so this discussion is purely theoretical when it comes to Chuckyville. Oh, and if you are talking about AP classes meeting that criteria, I just have one word Bawwwwhahahahahahahahah! Really? The AP test scores tell the real story.

Second, let the kids and the parents choose the classes they desire. Tell the Richmond and his guidance counselors to stop cooking the books and manipulating the numbers to make themselves look good in Newsweek and the Washington Compost. You and I both know kids of color are SHOVED into AP classes so the administration can pat themselves on the back when it comes to Jay Mathew's dog and pony show. It's not about learning a dag gone thing! It's about the number of butts occupying chairs in a classroom.

Anonymous said...

If you want your kid to get advanced placement in college after he graduates from CCPS, you're better off doing the dual enrollment thing at CSM. It's a rareity for a CCPS student to get a qualifiying score on most of the AP exams.

Just beware that your "AP" level kid may not qualify for REGULAR math in the state's university AND the community colleges. Even the community colleges are making "AP" level students take remedial math classes because Maryland's math program is so horribly ridiculous. Check out the article in the Baltimore Sun.

A better question would be, "Why are rigorous college level courses barred from the CCPS curriculum?"

Anonymous said...

Rhetorically, and sadly, a majority of Maryland's "highly qualified" teachers don't know the material well enough nor have the academic qualifications to teach those classes.