More Students Fail AP Tests – WSJ.com

February 15, 2011 at 9:24 am 2 comments

I’d like to see more on socioeconomic status and teacher preparation in this study.

  • When more students starting taking the SAT, the lowest quartile SES students got really low scores.  Those scores rose, but for awhile, more people coming in at the bottom drew down the average.
  • Similarly, I would expect the students of new AP teachers to be lower, then improve as the teacher improves.  As AP test-taking grows, we grow the AP teacher pool, and we can expect  those initial grades to be poor.

Neither of these explanations for more students failing AP tests is immediate cause for alarm.

As record numbers of high-school students are taking and passing Advanced Placement exams, a rising percentage are scoring at the lowest level possible, according to national data on 2010 graduates released Wednesday.

Students posted 1’s, the lowest score possible, on 23% of all AP exams. Ten years ago, that number stood at 14%, according to the College Board, the nonprofit group that administers the exams. The tests are scored on a 1-5 scale, with most colleges offering credit to students who earn a 3 or higher.

The sharp uptick in the basement-level scores was seen on 26 of 31 exams given over the 10 years, and was especially pronounced in math and the sciences. The latest graduating class posted the lowest possible score on 37% of biology exams, and 34% of calculus AB exams, the data show.

Education experts attribute the low scores to the recent national effort to push more students—no matter how ill-prepared—into AP courses, hoping to get them ready for college. They also blame school districts that have watered down the AP curriculum to accommodate lower-performing students, and students who sign up simply to pad their college applications.

via More Students Fail Advanced Placement Tests – WSJ.com.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John "Z-Bo" Zabroski  |  February 15, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Just wondering… is there any historical evidence that suggests that first year teachers perform poorly on standardized tests, AP or otherwise, in comparison to their peers?

    Reply
  • 2. Susie Watts  |  February 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    As a college consultant, I think the two points the experts make are valid reasons for students scoring poorly on the AP exams. I too see high school students I work with taking AP classes because they were pushed into them by teachers and school counselors. I have also had more than one student tell me that some AP classes at their high schools are actually easier than some of the regular courses. This explains the watering down concept. If you can’t get a decent score on the AP test, there isn’t much sense in taking the AP course. Colleges are not impressed with AP courses unless a student has a 3 or better on the AP test.

    College Direction
    Denver, Colorado

    Reply

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