This commentary is in response to Dave Weber's Article
Dave: More and more Florida high-school students are taking tough Advanced Placement courses that can earn them college credit, but over half stumble and are unable to pass the rigorous end-of-year exams that measure what they have learned.
Cade Response: More and more Florida students are taking the test as there is an increase in funding for students taking the classes, and also the push to increase students comes from a concept of equity. Prior to this push, the dominant culture of an AP student was the white upper crust student. Today the push is the make sure black and Hispanic students have equal access to these courses. Although this may not seem like a fair statement, it is a big part of the reason courses have been offered through open enrollment.
Dave: At the same time, many who can't master the tests come home with high grades on their report cards throughout the year. It's not uncommon for a student to earn an "A" from the teacher, yet flunk the AP exam.
Cade Response: Many teachers are more concerned at not hurting a student's feelings, and or are more worried that they will have to explain away the attitude of a student within their classroom. Thanks to media, politicians, lawyers and parents, many teachers give higher grades, so they don't have to face the scrutiny. If the truth were to arrive on the doorstep of parents, then the reality would be seen as most students failing for a generation. Why…simple answer, we have become a society of mediocrity, yet the standard of AP has maintained some decorum. Dave, perhaps you can take the time to report this from a true sociological standpoint, which may have been fairer.
Dave: A national debate on the value of widespread AP enrollment continues among education experts, with some saying there is no real evidence that pushing students beyond their capabilities helps them. AP is costly, too, with the state expected to spend an extra $58 million this year so kids can be in AP courses instead of regular classes. But Florida educators are sold on the Advanced Placement program.
Cade Response: This is not accurate again. Educators are not the ones sold on this process. Administrators who need to meet quotas are. Many educators liked the program the way it was before. Students who cared to study and put forth the effort were in the program. Another fallacy in your argument is that this program costs the State. The State actually desires the program as it receives additional funding for the program. The added funding used to be to cover the smaller class size. Now it is just something to be pocketed.
Dave: Their reasoning: It does not matter whether students earn passing marks on the AP tests because they will be rewarded simply for taking more difficult courses. Colleges considering student applications will be impressed, educators say, and students will get accustomed to the study demands they will face in college. "All of them are not going to be successful," said Dianne Lovett, director of academic services for Orange County schools. "But we are seeing more and more kids go into these classes who never thought they would do this." Still, the failure rate in AP courses across Central Florida is substantial.
Cade Response: The Administrators want to see the students enter the classroom. It helps the feel good ideas. There is very little evidence that a student taking an AP class will do better in college. If they do not try hard, they receive nothing from the course demands. Honors classes should have the same demand, yet as mentioned before, the curriculum has been lowered to achieve the calm from those same administrators.
Dave: Newsome's experience is exactly why a wider range of students — especially low-income and minority — should be encouraged to take AP courses, said Bridget Williams, principal at Jones High last year who has taken a position in the Orange County school district office. This past year, students completed 607 AP courses at Jones, passing 14 percent of them. "The goal is to get these kids into college," said Williams. "They may not score the perfect score, but having them in classes with kids who are college-bound is worthwhile."
Cade Response: The AP classes are not the same as college classes. They are a complete survey of the Introduction materials and quite frankly most students don't deserve to pass the test. This commentary shows exactly the target market, low-income and minority students. Regardless of their abilities, Florida education is placing these students into AP courses and heralding themselves as saviors. In the same vein as these administrators destroyed honors programs, they are trying to do the same to the AP environment. Another aspect – Getting them into college. Florida Education should do a study which shows which AP students attended University (since community college does not produce bachelor's degrees) and how many completed the University program.
Dave: Many parents also are on board with the new drive to push more and more kids into tougher courses. "In some of these AP courses, kids will get a grade sufficient to get college credit, and in some they won't," Fernandez said. "But in all of these courses they will get more motivated students and a higher level of instruction." Pass or fail, more kids are taking the test and Florida is spending millions of dollars to accommodate them. That includes course costs for instructional materials and teacher training.
Cade Response: Many parents have no idea what AP is, and when a student is enrolled are confused. Other Parents have heard without AP their kid does not get into University, since the level of competition for University is vast. Most parents want the best for their children, yet the level of parental guidance needed in AP is extreme. Therefore parents may want to be on board, yet they don't want to help. Good teachers will also design their course well enough that a student achieving a 5 on the test will have an A…a Student receiving a 1 on the test will be closer to an F or maybe a D. There are many AP teachers who don't finish the text or teach AP in an older manner, and need training yet districts don't have money to send teachers, and therefore your final comment is not completely valid. There is a lot more to AP than materials and training. AP Courses are a different breed of teaching and requires teachers with a completely different mindset to those teaching standard/honors education.. Is it fair to say they are better teachers; no…AP teachers are different teachers.
I urge every parent to learn about the rigors of AP prior to a student entering 8th grade. And if they miss that message, get on board with AP somehow. Yet if your child is not willing to put the effort into the course..don't do it. AP Is HARD work and receiving a 5 on the end of year test is harder than any test a teacher gives.
Dave, it Is the media that perpetuates the mediocrity allowed within education. Perhaps a deeper analysis of the AP environment and the validity of the student to test ratio will teach society a valid lesson. Although opening the doors to all students is fair…it is unfair in my opinion to place unwilling, non-motivated students into a classroom just to fill socio economic numbers. This is what Florida is doing so it looks good. This is part of the schools grade and the more the State Politicians create a broken system, the more Florida education remains part of the bottom 50. AP enrollment is up..pass rate is down. This will not change until accountability is created. I will be happy to sit down with you and talk about AP education in Florida from my experience if you desire it. I will do the same with elected officials…and people seeking election.