Disqus

Saturday, December 08, 2007

AP In SPS High schools

This article appeared in the Times on Friday, detailing AP in SPS high schools and in particular at Cleveland where previously there was none. From the article:

"Departing Bellevue schools Superintendent Mike Riley is known for increasing AP participation by making it a goal that every student in his district would take at least one AP course. Seattle's new superintendent, Maria Goodloe-Johnson, has said she has the same goal. To reach it, she's working on spreading AP around, giving more students access to the courses.

"When I say all kids should take AP, I believe students should not be denied access because it's not taught," Goodloe-Johnson said.

A 2007 University of Texas study showed students who took AP in high school earned better grades in college." (I hadn't read this study but a previous one found that students who attempted an AP course in high school did better in college and those who took the test did even better.)

I had been under the impression that Superintendent Riley had given resources and support to students who weren't top students to help them. That has to happen if you want all kids to try an AP class.

It will be interesting to see how Hale will keep its position of no separate AP and Honors classes (except, I think, in math) with what Dr. Goodloe-Johnson wants. We have heard here from parents who have written that they wouldn't want Hale because of the lack of AP. Roosevelt's LA department also doesn't offer AP classes. That is being revisited but it is very preliminary.

From the article:

"Garfield High School has the most AP courses in the district — 15. Any student can take them, but they are offered as part of the district's Accelerated Progress Program. Roosevelt has 11, and Ballard plans to offer 16 this school year, although not all of them have been approved by The College Board."

I did write to Emily Heffter, the reporter at the Times who wrote the article, to let her know that there was no APP in high school but the larger number of offerings at Garfield is because it is the feeder school for those students (if they choose to attend). AP at Garfield is open to all students.

One thing that I would love to see the Alliance or some other group step up to do is pay for the AP tests for low-income students. I believe the College Board, which runs AP, does have a reduced fee but it would be helpful if poorer students had to pay $10 or less or nothing in order to reduce barriers in their heads to attempting these courses.

10 comments:

patriciak said...

I feel so frustrated with the inconsistent (and sometimes non-existent, like Hale) approach to AP and honors classes in Seattle Public high schools. I have a student at Hale and he himself is contemplating transferring due to lack of rigor in his classes. Hale offers a nice sense of community as well as extras like the highly successful radio program, but will not succeed in retaining highly able students if they do not change their tune about AP and honors classes. Too bad. Some nice things are happening there.

maureen said...

I am concerned about the impact of keeping the APP cohort intact at Garfield. Is it worth trading the existence of one or two sections of basic AP classes at multiple high schools in order to assure that Garfield can provide multiple sections of those classes and sections of more obscure AP classes? I guess that I am assuming that APP eligible kids are more likely to enroll in AP classes and to thus create a 'market' for them--that seems reasonable to me.

If Garfield offered a more comprehensive Accelerated Progress Program and re-evaluated its participants in a meaningful way after kindergarten (i.e., not via the WASL) then I might feel differently.

(Disclaimer--I have an APP eligible 8th grader who will never be able to get into Garfield).

Melissa Westbrook said...

There is no APP program at Garfield. There is only the APP cohort who, yes, do take a lot of AP classes and thus Garfield has the most AP.

You have to take the WASL to stay in APP or Spectrum.

maureen said...

Do you have to get 4s (or even 3s)on the WASL to stay in APP or just take it?

Melissa Westbrook said...

That's an interesting question. I believe you have to pass (which is a 3). However, the former head of the Advanced Learning program was worried when she saw Spectrum students getting 3s and not 4s. Well, it turns out that it may be these kids are too smart for some questions. A teacher had asked a Spectrum student why she missed the question,"Where is the moon?". The answer was "the sky" and the student answered "space".

It's the Advanced learning Office's way of keeping the kids (and parents) in line by forcing them to take the WASL when they (and every other kid up to 10th grade) doesn't have to especially since it tells those parents nothing about their child's progress. So, to stay in the program, you take the WASL or else.

Anonymous said...

I went and looked at my twin daughters' 6th-grade WASL tests side by side, so I got a lot of insight into what kind of answers got more points. That was the first year my daughters had taken the test.

While of course I am not allowed to give details, it was extremely clear that the WASL requires very specific kinds of answers, and that you can't just rely on ordinarily good reading/writing skills to get through it. The necessary test-wiseness isn't hard to acquire (both girls scored much higher on reading the next year), but it was pretty obvious that it wasn't something that came by nature along with learning to read and write reasonably well.

I did get the impression that the scoring is less erratic than it once was. Even when I didn't agree with the scoring philosophy, there did appear to *be* a coherent scoring philosophy at work. Perhaps my kids just got lucky on their scorers, though -- I certainly can't rule out the possibility of bad scoring from two samples.

Incidentally, the cut-offs for qualifying for Spectrum, for APP, or for the Washington Search for Young Scholars, are all above the cutoff for level 4, even though the test is not set up to rank students accurately beyond the 1/2/3/4 sorting. The Johns Hopkins Talent Search, more sensibly IMO, takes any level 4 results.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Quite a lot of APP students get 3's in reading in WASL. Melissa posted on this a while back, they were too gifted to get a 4 since WASL wasn't made for them. Right, it was made for somebody else.

Anonymous said...

Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch pay $5 for each AP exam.

dan dempsey said...

Since Newsweek and US News started publicizing the rankings of high schools largely based on AP classes taken, we have seen the number of AP classes greatly expanded at many schools while the percentage of students actually scoring 3s or higher has plummeted.

It seems now we just skip many of the basics to push more kids into AP.

Anonymous said...

"Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch pay $5 for each AP exam."

That's great! Do you have a reference for this? I can't find it on the district web site.

Helen Schinske