Thursday, January 21, 2010

Your school's AP secrets

Jay Mathews’s Class Struggle
January 21, 2010
The Washington Post

[This is my Local Living column for Jan. 21, 2010.]

Ever seen the Advanced Placement Grade Report for your high school? I thought not. Most people don’t know it exists. That is why I have so much pleasure going over the reports. It is like reading the principal’s e-mails, full of intriguing innuendo and secrets that parents and students aren’t supposed to know.

Although these subject-by-subject reports rarely appear on public Web sites, some schools will show them to me if I ask, for the following reasons: 1. I am very polite; 2. no reporter has ever asked for them before, so there are no rules against it; and 3. they don’t think anyone will care.

They are wrong on that last count. The AP Grade Report allows the public to see which AP courses at a school produce the most high grades, and the most low grades, on AP exams. You can gauge the skill of the teachers and the nature of the students who take various AP subjects.

This region’s schools have made AP (and the similar International Baccalaureate, which provides comparable reports) the most challenging and influential courses they have. On Feb. 1, The Post will publish my annual rankings of Washington area schools based on participation in these tests, written and scored by outside experts. Students who do well on them can earn college credit. Many people would be interested in the actual results (different from the participation figures I use in the rankings) if they were readily available. To my surprise, that is beginning to happen.

Read more HERE.

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