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Thursday, February 21, 2013

When is good news not good news? When we are talking about education in Florida.

Good news, the town crier yelled as the results from all our kids A.P. tests came out. Florida first in the amount of kids taking A.P. tests for years is now among the leaders in kids passing them too. All is right in the world and this is proof that the education reforms are working. Except it isn’t.

Last year 27.3 percent of students passed an A.P. exam, both up from the previous year and above the national average of 19.5 percent. Furthermore last year more than twice as many kids graduated with at least one AP test passed (4 year career) than did in 2002. That’s good news right?

Here however is the problem, in Florida over half of our kids take A.P. tests, a score which is inflated because if you are in an A.P. class you have to take the test whether you think you will pass it or not. What’s the rate of the rest of the nation? 32.4%

That’s right friends in the rest of the country less than a third of their students take A.P. classes while here in Florida partly because A.P. classes give schools cover and easy points in the school grading formula over half of our kids do. Could the sheer volume of students taking A.P. classes have led to some of our improvement? Yeah I think so too.

Oh, did you know the state pays for the tests too? Which means since we pump so many kids into A.P. classes and then make them take the test, the state spends tens of millions of dollars a year on failed tests. Tests which more than few have no business taking and do so knowing they will fail.

One last thing, ask an A.P. teacher, preferably one who has been doing it for a while what they think about the progress we have made, if they think what we have been doing is good news or not. I think you may be surprised.

So yeah, I guess there is some good news here but at the end of the day it’s more cherry picked, inflated stats that come with serious questions and reservations. Welcome to Florida.

Follow up, below is from the Miami Herald: And despite the state’s overall success, there are some troubling concerns about AP Florida’s high schools.

Fifty-six percent of the exam scores from last year’s class were 1s or 2s, with more than 32 percent of those at the lowest level. That shows students did not master the concepts and skills taught in the class. In recent years, some educators have questioned the value of students taking classes they are not ready to tackle.

Florida high schools routinely schedule ninth-graders into some AP classes, though the practice is discouraged by the College Board because the failure rate is so high. Many Florida schools, for example, enroll freshmen in AP human geography, where nearly 49 percent of students scored a 1, recent data shows.

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