Wednesday, September 30, 2015

#114 - Questions on rationale for more AP classes

June 4, 2014
Questions continue on rationale for more AP classes
in our lowest-performing high schools

Turning around our lowest-performing high schools is a huge challenge.  Recent reports critical of the state’s oversight of federal dollars to transform dozens of schools (Colorado's Turnaround Schools 2010-2013: Make a Wish - by A Plus Denver) and of Denver Public Schools’ efforts to improve its high schools (Beyond Averages: School Quality in Denver Public Schools – by the Donnell-Kay Foundation; see box) point out a number of ways in which we are falling short.

“In secondary grades, the overwhelming majority of quality schools are charters, all but two of whom serve a substantial majority of low-income kids. The scarcity of district-operated quality schools overall and particularly serving low-income kids is apparent….
“The inability of DPS to operate quality schools serving secondary grades either by opening new schools or by improving existing schools is deeply concerning. Indeed, the lack of progress in this area over the past five years should greatly temper the enthusiasm over the district’s aggregated scores overall and raise serious questions about the efficacy of many of its policies….
“… the district’s attempts to open its own new schools, and particularly to improve its continuing schools serving secondary grades, have yielded remarkably little. These strategies, which compose the vast majority of the district’s efforts, do not appear to have provided any meaningful return.”
My argument in the pages that follow may seem trivial[1]: to criticize one specific effort to improve several of our lowest-performing high schools.  You might say, OK, perhaps expanding Advanced Placement offerings in these schools is a mistake, but what’s the harm?  It is not like this additional program is a deal-breaker on whether these schools will survive the state’s newest measures on accountability (SB 163).  
                                                    
True. But I think adding one more program—of dubious value for such schools—says a lot about the critical issue of how these schools do or do not improve. At times the tendency is to JUST SAY YES to any offer, without establishing clear priorities and carefully selecting new programs to see that they are aligned with these priorities.[2]  Adding one more program also says a good deal about some of us who want to help.  The school says yes—sometimes more for the additional dollars than for any sound educational reason; the funders feel they are helping those in greatest need.  And yet the students are not well served, and the school fails to tackle more fundamental concerns that have brought it to this sad state.  Closure, or phase out, seems only closer.

I have no doubt that there are schools where many students who can benefit from challenging, perhaps college-level classes, have been shut out of such rigorous coursework.  And that in many cases the students excluded from such classes have been low-income and minority students.   An assistant principal tells me: “It’s an access issue.”  I get it. There is an injustice here that we should correct.

But all I have learned about adding Advanced Placement classes in a number of our lowest-performing schools leads me to question this strategy, as I did a year ago (Another View #95 -“Mismatch – Adding more AP classes in low-performing schools," March, 26, 2013).

Denver Public Schools seems proud of the work it has done to expand the number of students taking AP classes.  Its website highlights improvements made since launching The Denver Plan in 2005, including this bullet:
·         “We have doubled the number of high school students who take Advanced Placement (AP) courses or concurrently enroll in college programs.” http://www.teachindenver.com/about-dps/the-denver-plan.html
(NOTE: Former DPS principals Rob Stein and Scott Mendelsburg sent notes supporting my theme.)  Over a year later, with more evidence now in from several schools that have expanded AP offerings, I wish to take another look.  Perhaps I was wrong.

A second reason for this newsletter: having studied and written about a number of the state’s lowest-performing schools receiving federal and state funds to support “turnarounds”—the School Improvement Grant—a red flag went up when I learned that two of the four schools to receive SIG funds this year, Bruce Randolph in Denver and Aurora Central High, participate in this AP push.  Exactly NOT what they need, in my opinion.   Results for 2013 at both schools—see the pages that follow—confirm my doubts.

A third reason is the inaccurate reporting from the Colorado Legacy Foundation (as it was known until its recent name change, now the Colorado Education Initiative) about its AP initiative in 13 Colorado high schools.  If its November press release of “70% increase in Advanced Placement scores” in 2012-13 were true, then perhaps I needed to rethink my position.  But what information the Colorado Legacy Foundation has made available comes nowhere close to supporting that claim (I see a 33% increase in the number achieving qualifying scores in 2012-13).  And what the CLF has not made available to me or has made public only adds to my doubts.

"Some of my students are prepared, but others are very underprepared...this is supposed to be a college-level class and yet very few of my students do their homework. As a result, I have to spend a lot of class time letting them do the work they were supposed to do at home."    AP English Language teacher. From Denver and Aurora High Schools: Crisis and Opportunity
To be clear, I did not and do not question the overall effort by Denver Public Schools, the Colorado Legacy Foundation, and the College Board—among others—to increase the number of students taking AP classes.  What I do question is pushing this initiative in schools where such a low-percentage of 10th grade students perform at grade level, where the average ACT scores for juniors are far below college-ready, where over 60% of those who do graduate and head off to college are found not ready for college classes[3]—which causes them to take remedial work, which often seems one roadblock too many, decreasing the likelihood that they will ever graduate even with just a two-year degree.  Would it not be more helpful to redesign junior and senior year to help these students , first, graduate, and second, receive a high school degree that means they have achieved 12th grade proficiency in reading, writing, and math?

Much in this AP push strikes me as a terrible misuse of time and money. 

1.       Update from last year - Five Denver schools

First a quick update.  Last year I pointed to five Denver high schools (including Bruce Randolph) where the jump in the number of students taking AP classes since 2008 indicates the district’s “push,” but where less than 20% of the students who took the AP tests passed.  (See Addendum B for passing rates in Denver Public Schools- 39.3% in 2013. See Addendum C for the percentage of Colorado students receiving 3’s: 62.2%.) I now add the equally bleak 2013 results at these five DPS high schools. 

2013 AP Tests Passed by School

2012
2013
Current status
5 Denver high schools
Number tested
Number passed
AP Pass rate
Number tested
Number passed
AP Pass rate
School Performance Framework
Bruce Randolph
(gr. 6-12)
117
22*
19%
155
30
19%
SPF-Priority Improvement-
Receiving federal
School Improvement Grant
West
73
12
16%
21
4
19%
SPF- Turnaround
Being phased out
Martin Luther King Jr. Early College (gr. 6-12)
130
18
14%
141
20
14%
SPF- Performance
Manual
63
6
10%
79
1
1%
SPF- Turnaround
Mid-year leadership change
Montbello
312
25
8%
208
16
8%
SPF- Turnaround
Being phased out
TOTALS at 5 schools
695
83
11.9%
604
71
11.7%

Figures from DPS Office of Accountability, Research and Evaluation-http://testing.dpsk12.org/reseach_eval/reports/test_results/AP/AP_results.htm.

Randolph, MLK, and Manual—unwisely, in my view—all continued to increase the number tested in 2013; Montbello and West, both being phased out, finally began to reduce the number of students taking AP classes.  Who would argue that the four schools above on Priority Improvement or Turnaround Plans have benefited from Denver Public School’s push to expand AP classes?  

A closer look at the results at Bruce Randolph—please remember, a school now receiving close to $1.4 million in federal funds for improvement—is even more disturbing.  The figures above INCLUDE the school’s strong scores on the Spanish AP.  When the Spanish AP results are not included, the passing rate at Bruce Randolph falls from 19% to 4%. Out of 126 tested, only 5 achieved a qualifying score.

AP Exam Scores: Bruce Randolph High School 
WITH Spanish Language scores

         2009-10
2010-11
2011-12
2012-13

# Tested                                                                        222

110
117
155

# Passed                                                                         51

2
22
30

% Passed                                                                       23%

2%
19%
19%


WITHOUT Spanish Language scores
                                                    2009-10
     2010-11
     2011-12
   2012-13
# Tested                                                                      142
        110
           90
       126
# Passed                                                                        1
          2
            1
         5
% Passed                                                                       1%
          2%
            1%
         4%


 2.  Two schools in the CLF AP Initiative  –  Abraham Lincoln and Aurora Central
When the Colorado Legacy Foundation included two low-performing Denver-area high schools in its AP initiative last year—Abraham Lincoln in DPS and Aurora Central—I doubted these would be a good fit.  Was I wrong?  Here are 2012 and 2013 AP results side by side. (Data here is from the two school districts[4]; as I explain in section 3, CLF would not release school by school information. CLF’s focus, I realize, is math, science, and English courses, while the figures from DPS and APS include all AP classes.)

2 low-performing high schools with high poverty, high minority enrollment-
where CLF’s AP initiative began in 2012-13

2011-12
2012-13

Number tested
Number passed
AP Pass rate
Number tested
Number passed
AP Pass rate
Abraham Lincoln-DPS
421
100
24%
449
107
24%

In the first year of CLF’s initiative with Abraham Lincoln, the percentage of students passing the AP tests was unchanged; less than one-quarter of the AP tests were scored at a 3 or better.

2011-12
2012-13

Total AP students
# of exams
AP students with scores of 3+
% of Total AP students w/ scores of 3+
Total AP students
# of exams
AP students w/ scores of 3+
% of Total AP students w/ scores of 3+
Aurora Central –
Aurora School District
80
119
29
36.3%
150
237
33
22%

In the first year of CLF’s initiative with Aurora Central, while the number of students taking AP class nearly doubled (80 in 2012 to 150 in 2013) and the number of AP exams taken doubled (119 in 2012 to 237 in 2013), only four more students received a 3 or better in 2013 or than in 2012 (33 compared to 29). Leading to a significant drop in the percentage of students scoring 3 or better—from 36.3% to 22%.
(See below[5] for a six-year picture of AP scores at Aurora Central.)

Together, at the two schools, 11 more students were able to score a 3 or better on AP tests in 2013 than in 2012.

As is the case with Bruce Randolph, a closer look at the results at Abraham Lincoln, with and without the AP Spanish test, reveals the consistently low percentage of students who pass the other tests. 

AP Exam Scores: Abraham Lincoln High School
With Spanish Language scores


2009-10
2010-11
2011-12
2012-13

# Tested
375
397
421
449

# Passed
76
59
100
107

% Passed
20%
15%
24%
24%


Without Spanish Language scores

2009-10
2010-11
2011-12
2012-13

# Tested
296
358
355
366

# Passed
20
31
46
39

% Passed
7%
9%
13%
11%



“The problem at GW, several students said, is the ‘closedness’ of the IB program combined with what they said was the poor quality of the school’s honors and Advanced Placement classes leaves motivated students not in the IB program with no real recourse.  One student said she was so poorly prepared by her AP Spanish class this semester that she wept while taking the AP exam because she knew she had no chance of passing.” (bold mine) http://co.chalkbeat.org/2014/05/09/proposed-changes-to-storied-program-roil-denver-high-school/#.U3j0lMakptw.
That a good number of students take Spanish Language AP at Abraham Lincoln and Bruce Randolph and that such a high percentage do so well is impressive.  In 2013 the pass rate on the Spanish Language AP at Lincoln was 82% (68/83), and at Bruce Randolph it was 86% (25/29).  Such stellar results show that this college level course is a good fit at these schools—and a real success.  But separating those figures from the other AP tests taken reveals shockingly low passing rates: English Language & Composition: 3 out of 75 earned a qualifying score; Physics B:  1 out of 37; European History: 0 out of 40.  When the Spanish AP results are not included, the passing rate at Abraham Lincoln falls from 24% to 11%. 

3.        Colorado Legacy Foundation announces 2013 results

Another reason for my follow-up this spring is because of CLF’s report last November.  It announced a “70% increase in Advanced Placement scores” at its 13 schools “during the 2012-13 school year.” (Bold mine; you will soon see why.)   I was eager to learn more, for if it showed this kind of success in the lowest-performing schools I had written about a year ago, I was surely wrong to question its AP Initiative in such schools. 

As presented by the Colorado Legacy Foundation in its press release, here was the good news:

Program to Close Achievement Gap Celebrates Record Gains - November 19, 2013
DENVER, CO – Today the Colorado Legacy Foundation (CLF) in partnership with the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) announced a 70 percent increase in Advanced Placement (AP) scores for the 13 schools supported by the Colorado Legacy Schools initiative during the 2012-2013 school year. The Colorado Legacy Schools initiative is a local replication of NMSI’s proven Comprehensive AP Program, which has demonstrated an unprecedented track record closing the achievement gap and increasing college readiness.
   “The Colorado Legacy Schools initiative is about changing the culture of learning environments so that every student has the opportunity to receive the support they need to succeed in AP coursework,” said Dr. Helayne Jones, President and CEO of the Colorado Legacy Foundation.  
    “These results represent a 70 percent increase in the number of students who earned a passing score of three or more on the math, science and English AP exam. These outstanding results equate to 522 new high school students who have had the opportunity to participate and succeed in rigorous AP coursework.”[6]  (Bold mine)

EdNewsColorado, Nov. 20, 2013, followed up with a story that repeated the same highlights, “AP scores, participation jump under pilot program”  (http://www.ednewscolorado.org/brief_text/ap-scores-participation-jump-under-pilot-program), and the Arvada Press posted its own cheerful piece about its local high school students, “Nonprofit Group Lauds AP,” (http://arvadapress.com/stories/Nonprofit-group-lauds-AP-students,10019).         
                 
I used this quote over a year ago; it comes from a Denver Post article back in 2010 titled: “Denver schools push for students to take tougher courses.”  I believe the 2013 AP results in the schools I highlight here make Sadler’s point as relevant today as it was back then.

   “Some critics are questioning the increased ubiquitousness of AP — courses designed to push the highest achieving students that are now being offered to everyone.
   “‘AP doesn't solve the problem of kids coming into high school ill-prepared,’ said Philip M. Sadler, a senior lecturer in astronomy at Harvard University and editor of the book,  AP: A Critical Examination of the Advanced Placement Program.
   “‘It's for the kids who are champing at the bit and are really well prepared for college,’ he said. ‘Americans just love these easy solutions. If we put AP in all schools in the country, somehow kids will know more math, be harder working and go to college. Show me the research.’” (Denver schools push for students to take tougher courses - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/ci_16254380#ixzz325kzHO7r)
It turns out, however, that a “70 percent increase” for 2012-13 is misleading.  I began asking the Colorado Legacy Foundation for the details behind its 2013 report.  On Nov. 22, 2013, CLF sent me a one pager; it correctly stated at the top “First Year Growth.”  I responded that day with a request for the information on passing rates at each of the 13 Legacy schools. I added in my email: “Still trying to understand if there is a significant difference in the kind of schools where the AP effort does and perhaps does not have a big impact.”  Dr. Greg Hessee, Director of Initiatives, Colorado Legacy Schools, wrote me on Dec. 9: “I’d be happy to provide you the growth of our individual schools in terms of enrollment and, separately, qualifying scores.” Over the next four months I sent reminders and received assurances that the information I had asked for would be made available.[7]  It took until April 18 before I was finally told that CLF would not release the school-by-school data.

On February Hessee sent a helpful page with overall figures for Cohort 0 and Cohort 1.  It revealed how CLF probably came up with its 70% figure.  “First year growth” combined the phenomenal growth at the three Colorado Springs-area schools where the effort began in 2011-12 (Cohort 0), with the first year growth of the second group of 10 schools (Cohort 1), where its work began in 2012-13. Two different years, and not what CLF stated were the 2012-13 results. (Its own figures actually show “first-year growth” to be 68%.)

Here is my presentation of the data.  The Cohort 0 and Cohort 1 data for 2011, 2012, and 2013 – in black - comes from CLF.  The TOTALS at the bottom and the two columns on the right—in blue—are my own calculations. Rather than totaling results for “first year growth,” my version tracks the changes from year to year, and shows the increase in numbers and passing rates between 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Cohort 0: 3 high schools serving military families: Fountain Fort Carson, Mesa Ridge, and Widefield High.
Cohort 1: 10 high schools: Abraham Lincoln; Aurora Central; Arvada High (Jefferson County); Centennial High (Pueblo City); Northglenn High (Adams 12); Vista Ridge High (Falcon 49); James Irwin High (Harrison 2); and Central High, Grand Junction High, and Fruita Monument High (all three in Mesa County 51).


2011
2012
2013
2012 to 2013
Cohort 0 -   3 schools
# Exams
Taken
# Exams Taken
# Exams Taken



BEFORE AP INITIATIVE BEGAN
FIRST YEAR of AP INITIATIVE
2nd YEAR of AP INITIATIVE



86
623
865
242 more
39% growth in # taking







Qualifying
scores
Qualifying scores
Qualifying scores



48
256
283
27 more
10% growth in # passing






Cohort 1 -  10 schools    

BEFORE AP INITIATIVE BEGAN
FIRST YEAR of AP INITIATIVE




1,630
2,509
879 more
54% growth in # taking








Qualifying scores
Qualifying scores




685
972
287 more
42% growth in # passing








2012
2013


TOTALS -
13 schools

# Exams Taken
# Exams Taken
Growth in #s taking
% growth in #s taking


2,253
3,374
1,121
50%


Qualifying scores
Qualifying scores
Growth in #s  passing
% growth in #s passing


941
1,255
314
33%

So CLF’s press release was inaccurate in stating the growth in qualifying scores had jumped 70% “during the 2012-2013 school year.”  If my math is correct, CLF’s figures show that the growth in qualifying scores in 2012-13 was 33% (1,255/941=1.33), a far cry from 70%, or 68%. And they show that 314 more students took and passed AP tests in 2013 over the total in 2012—not 522.

From “Rethinking Advanced Placement,” New York Times, Jan. 7, 2011: “So perhaps it is no surprise that while the number of students taking the A.P. biology test has more than doubled since 1997, the mean score has dropped to 2.63, from 3.18.  On the exam last May, slightly under half of the test-takers scored at least a 3, which equates to a C in a college course. And while 19 percent of students earned 5’s, almost twice that many got 1’s, which could be a failing grade in college.”
CLF’s own data reveals another disturbing story for 2012-13.  The year before its initiative, at these 10 high schools in Cohort 1, 120 out of 534 Free and Reduced Lunch students scored a 3 or better – a passing rate of 22.5%.  In 2012-13, 840 FRL students took an AP class, but less than one-fifth of them (19.5%) achieved a qualifying score: 164 out of 840. Yes, far too often low-income students capable of rigorous high school courses have been excluded from such courses; but we also know that that the majority of FRL students in 10th grade (see TCAP results) and 11th grade (see ACT scores) do not perform at grade level.  It is hard to see how the AP initiative proved of much benefit to the FRL students at these 10 high schools.

At the new website for the Colorado Education Initiative we read:  “Today, we act as the innovation and R & D partner for CDE.” My newsletter last year quoted Dr. Jones’ assertion that “major requirements for funding happen around year three, and that’s when we’ll have good hard data showing results of the program-which will make it easier for fundraising.”[8]  Year three of this effort has now ended.  Funders will no doubt expect to see the hard data, school by school, that was not made available to me.  And I trust the Colorado Department of Education will require a greater degree of transparency from its “R & D partner” than I have seen on this specific initiative.

**
You ask: so what do you recommend?   To repeat my conclusion of a year ago: “…what we may need to admit is that AP FOR ALL is an easy answer. It doesn’t require the more difficult work of figuring how to adapt curriculum and instruction to help a 10th grader move from unsatisfactory to proficient by the time he or she graduates—or to wrestle with bigger questions about the impersonal structure of our large high schools, and much more.”

It is encouraging to learn of such an effort, as in this Education Week story, “‘Transitional’ Classes Gain Ground In States as College-Prep Strategy,” now under way in eight states. [9]  Studies on these courses seem promising.[10]   And for those who have graduated, but who need remediation on arriving at college, it is good to learn of new ways Metro State and a few community colleges are supporting students freshman year without insisting they take classes (that earn them no college credit) to “catch up.”  

But in our high schools, especially those where most juniors and seniors are not at grade level, let’s “meet students where they are.” Revise and adjust what is taught. Help students finish up college-ready.  This will be a far better use of time and resources than adding AP classes at schools like Bruce Randolph where—the Spanish AP’s exempted—just 5 out of 126 passed in 2013. What’s the point of that? 



Addendum A - Two A Plus Denver reports

1.       From Start with the Facts 2013 – Progress Report:  Adequate is not Enough
“Advanced Placement pass rates are another measure of whether kids are successful, indicating academic rigor and college-readiness. [In Denver Public  Schools] Overall, there has been improvement between 2009 and 2013. Pass rates went from 33.6 percent to 39.6 percent (returning to where they had been pre-2009 when fewer students took exam. Note that the national pass rate for high school juniors is 59.96 percent)….
“Except for DSST-Stapleton, the pass rate for low-income kids is below 50 percent at every school. At 78 percent, DSST has the highest AP test pass rate overall and highest percentage of low-income students (65 percent). Fifty-five tests were passed by low-income students at DSST compared to 165 tests by non-low income students.
“In volume, the schools where the highest numbers of tests were passed by low-income students were Lincoln (104) and East (67). The highest pass rates among low-income students were at DSST (65%), DSA (49%), and KIPP (42%). The lowest pass rates were West (0%), Manual (1%), Montbello (8%), and CEC (8%).

While the number of kids taking and passing tests may be increasing, it’s important to understand that this does not necessarily mean that rigor and readiness is rising equally among all kids.” (bold mine)  (http://www.aplusdenver.org/work/StartwiththeFacts2013.pdf - page 4)

2.       From Denver and Aurora High Schools: Crisis and Opportunity (2013)
“To incentivize AP participation over the past few years, DPS has offered School Performance Framework points to schools who enroll students in AP classes (and/or encourage them to take the AP exams). The intention on DPS’ part is to ‘make sure our students are ready for the next step in their education, so that they have a real shot at the future they see for themselves.’ These incentives to increase AP participation have worked.
“Between 2008 and 2012, 2,095 additional AP tests were taken in Denver—a 174% jump and substantial increase considering that student population in the district only rose 14% over this period. These statistics have been used to imply that more students are college ready, and it is true that as more students have tested, more have passed. However, a consistently low percentage of students continue to pass the AP tests. The national pass rate is 56% while Denver’s hovers around 37%. At seven high schools, fewer than one in four students pass the exam. These low pass rates signal that while many students take the AP classes, few master the material.

“… Regardless of the reason for low pass rates, participation rates should not be interpreted as proof that more students are college ready. Whether or not taking AP unprepared to pass is ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ most agree that the impact is magnified when students are prepared for the class.” (bold mine) (http://www.aplusdenver.org/_docs/HighSchoolFinal4.11.13.pdf - pages 7-8)

Advanced Placement - 2013
National pass rate – 60%
Colorado pass rate – 62.2%
DPS pass rate- 39.3%
Pass rate at 5 DPS high schools* – 11.7%
*(See box page 3)


Addendum B

DPS – number tested and percentage of AP tests earning a qualifying score – over eight years*

2005-06
2006-07
2007-08
2008-09
2009-10
2010-11
2011-12
2012-13
Number tested
2,261
2,752
2,836
3,508
4,115
4,587
4,950
5,608
Percentage of AP tests taken that earned a qualifying score
41%
37.6%
37.8%
33.6%
35.9%
34.6%
37.3%
39.3%


DPS – number tested and percentage of AP tests earning a qualifying score – over seven years*

2005-06
2006-07
2007-08
2008-09
2009-10
2010-11
2011-12
2012-13
’06 to ’13 change
All Language Tests
239   47.3%
231   47.2%
252   57.5%
160     60%
300   63.7%
283   61.8%
405  66.4%
406
68.7%
+20.4%
All Science Tests
315    36.2%
392  43.1%
412   39.1%
479   36.7%
594   36.5%
776     39%
665     41.7%
994
43.8%
+7.6%
AP Math Tests
221   35.7%
312   33.7%
377   39%
402   43.5%
464   47.8%
502   43.2%
590  40.7%
630
41.9%
+6.2%
All Social Science Tests
860    37.9%
949   31.9%
974   27.9%
1,365   26.2%
1,372   29.7%
1,712 26.1%
1,901 30.6%
2080
33%
-4.9%
All Arts Tests
77    64.9%
84    38.1%
90   63.3%
70    45.7%
166   51.2%
146  43.2%
137  56.2%
135
57.8%
-7.1%
All Literature Tests
549   46.3%
784   40.4%
731   39.5%
1032   33.1%
1218   29.3%
1164  32.7%
1,256  31.4%
1,363
33.3%
-13%
*Figures taken from 2006-10 scores reported Feb. 2, 2011, and from 2008-12 scores reported Sept. 12, 2012, DPS Office of Accountability, Research and Evaluation; where the two reports had different numbers for 2008 – 2010, the figures used here are from most recent report.  2012-13 figures taken from the 2013 report.

Addendum C

From Chalkbeat Colorado, Feb. 11, 2014

    Colorado ranked ninth in the country for the number of students scoring highly enough on Advanced Placement exams to be eligible for college credit, according to a new report released Tuesday.
The exam scores, which are administered by the College Board, are supposed to test mastery of college-level studies. The exams are scored on a scale of one to five –a score three of better can qualify a student for college credit.
    Colorado’s students have ranked in the top 10 for performance on the exams for the past seven years. This year, almost 40 percent of Colorado students took at least one AP exam, higher than the national average of 33. Of those, 62.2 percent receive a three or better on at least one exam.
    The number of students taking AP exams in Colorado increased this year as well, to 19,446. The state has seen a steady increase over the past decade in the number of students in all groups taking the exams. http://co.chalkbeat.org/2014/02/11/colorado-ranks-ninth-for-high-scores-on-ap-exams/




[1] It is less trivial when Colorado legislators propose an Advanced Placement incentive bill, or when Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan asks Congress for $300 million to close the achievement gap, and specifically mentions “more AP classes” as one way the funds could help accomplish that (http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2014/05/arne_duncan_spotlights_inequit.html).
[2] Aurora Central High School—one of the schools featured in this newsletter—had a new principal, Mark Roberts, this past fall. In October, in front of the APS school board, Roberts summarized improvement efforts since he arrived, and spoke of “approximately 71 new implementations introduced” at Aurora Central. Yes, 71. A school that the year before said yes to more AP classes … perhaps a school that too often says, “Yes, let’s do that too.”  But as for two or three priorities … ?
[3] Remediation rates, ACT scores, & % proficient/advanced on TCAP at 4 high schools expanding AP offerings - 2013

Remediation rates **
ACT scores – 11th grade
Composite             Reading
TCAP – 10th grade
Reading              Math
Aurora Central-APS*
68.1%
15
14.7
35%.
11.7%
Abraham Lincoln – DPS*
65.1%
15.6
13.7
37.9%
10.6%
Bruce Randolph – DPS
62.5%
15.2
15.1
35.7%
6.3%
South High – DPS*
67%
16.4
16.5
43.1%
17.1%
*Aurora Central & Abraham Lincoln are part of Colorado Legacy’s “cohort 1”; South High is part of “cohort 2.” **http://highered.colorado.gov/Publications/Reports/Remedial/FY2013/2013_Remedial_relmay14.pdf

[4] The school-specific information here comes from two local districts that provide a breakdown of passing scores at their high schools: Aurora Public Schools and DPS.  DPS includes numbers for each of the AP tests taken at each high school. For example, it provides the number tested for each of the 28 different AP tests taken by East High’s students, and the number who passed whenever the total tested was at least 16.  Note, however, that DPS and Aurora use different ways to record their results. The percentage in Denver is based on the number of AP tests passed out of the number taken. The percentage in Aurora is based on the number of students who pass any one of the tests out of the total number of individual students taking the AP tests (33 out of 150).  If the percentage at Aurora Central were based on Denver’s formula, the figure would be well below 22%.
[5] AP Exam Scores: Aurora Central High School – over 6 years


2007-08
2008-09
2009-10
2010-11
2011-12
2012-13
Total AP Students
128
113
144
136
80
150
Number of Exams
165
135
180
193
119
237
AP Students with Scores 3+
17
28
29
38
29
33
% of Total AP Students with Scores 3+
13.3%
24.8%
20.1%
27.9%
36.3%
22.0%
(33/150)

[6]Link no longer accessible, but it was: http://colegacy.org/2013/11/program-to-close-achievement-gap-celebrates-record-gains/; data currently on Colorado Education Initiative’s website about the AP initiative only mentions 2011-12 results at the first three high schools: http://www.coloradoedinitiative.org/our-work/colorado-legacy-schools/results/.
[7]Responding to my emails, Hessee sent emails on 1/31/14, 2/20/14, 2/27/14, 3/3/14, and 4/16/14 assuring me the information would be forthcoming.  I requested a meeting and again understood the results would be made available. But two days later I was told that CLF would not provide the school-by-school data.  I shared my disappointment about this with Dr. Helayne Jones, President and CEO of CLF. Her response pointed out that “we have agreements with the schools we fund regarding release of data.  We cannot and will not violate the relationships we have with our school and district partners, nor do I believe you would want us to.”  True, but why couldn’t I have been told this four months earlier?  (http://www.coloradoedinitiative.org/who-we-are/history-accomplishments/)

[8] “Colorado Legacy Foundation wins $10.5 million grant to push AP courses,” The Denver Post, Feb. 10, 2012, http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_19712351#ixzz2NX3ls9na.
[10] Reshaping the College Transition: States That Offer Early College Readiness Assessments and Transition Curriculum, May, 2013 - http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/media/k2/attachments/reshaping-the-college-transition-state-scan.pdf, and Reshaping the College Transition: Early College Readiness Assessments and Transition  Curricula in Four States, Nov. 2013, http://ccrc.tc.columbia.edu/media/k2/attachments/reshaping-college-transition.pdf
Another View, a newsletter by Peter Huidekoper, Jr., represents his own opinion and is not intended to represent the view of any organization he is associated with.     Comments are welcome. 303-757-1225 / peterhdkpr@gmail.com



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