Not One of the 204 Students Taking Advanced Placement (AP) Courses Passed the AP Test at Little Rock McClellan Magnet School in 2005
State of Arkansas pays $83 for each AP test - Graduation rate in Arkansas dropped 10% from 2005 to 2006!
On June 6, a newspaper article touted that "Arkansas posted the greatest increase in student Advanced Placement (AP) participation in the nation for the second consecutive year." 1 On June 9, Arkansas Democrat Gazette editorialists, who constantly write editorials pumping up the Arkansas Department Education and trying to prove that government takeover of schools has been successful, followed up with an article crowing about this supposed success. 2 (See all footnotes below)
Neither article mentioned how many students take these AP tests and fail them (by 2003 law the state is required to pay $83.00 a test).3 In Little Rock in 2006, 204 students at McClellan Magnet High School took the AP courses, and zero students passed the AP test. 4 In another school in Little Rock in 2006 , J. A. Fair, 314 students took AP courses, and 2 passed the test. 5
In other words, the editorialists are crowing about wasting about $42,828 of taxpayer money just in these two schools alone, paying for tests that students failed, not to speak of the big money it takes to provide the AP courses. And these editorialists have written numerous articles crowing about the efficiency of those big schools!
Statewide, taxpayers paid $151,475 for failed tests. (18,125 students taking the AP test failed it, a failure rate of 72 %.) That amount is just a drop in the bucket compared to the mega bucks it takes to provide all those AP courses in all those schools for students who either aren't equipped mentally for them or who refuse to do the work. In addition, when you put all those students in those AP classes, the teacher has to water down the courses and probably hurts all the students' chances of passing the test. 6
Why in the world would we want to increase the number of students in AP courses with this kind of costs and failure rate? The other states are keeping their failure rate around 40% rather that 72%. Neither the editorial or newspaper article mentioned above noted that 59. 4% of the students taking the AP tests nationwide had scores of 3 or above on AP tests (passing scores) but in Arkansas only 28% had AP scores of 3 or above. 7
Is that anything to crow about – the fact that Arkansas has increased the number of students taking the test and failing it while taxpayers are picking up the tab at $83.00 a test. Coercing all these students to take AP courses just makes Arkansas students and teachers look bad and gives a false picture of our students in the same way that ACT scores look bad in the few states where ALL students are REQUIRED to take the tests.
And none of the media have mentioned that Arkansas is only one out of three states that mandates that all high schools offer AP courses. I guess that is because Arkansas taxpayers are just rolling in money and can afford the waste. 8
And how many of you have heard that the graduation rate in Arkansas dropped from 81.3% in 2005 to 71% in 2006 (more than 10%.) according to Arkansas Department Education reports on the web, a fact that I have not seen mentioned ANYWHERE. 9 Why aren't we crowing about that?
Could the drop in graduation rate possibly have any connection to coercing more students into taking more Advanced Placement courses? Are students tired of facing failure every day and just giving up? Or could it be that they are sick to death of test, test, test and know they won't be able to pass that graduation test anyway so they just give up. Nah, that is just those crazy, experienced "aginner, naysayer " teachers and parents that would think that way!
Whatever the reason for the reduced graduation rate, 10% of total student enrollment of 463,922 students in Arkansas in 2006 would be about 46,639 students. (I understand there is a complex formula for figuring graduation rates but this number helps us understand we are talking about many thousands of students.) 10 That is a huge personal loss for these children and their families as well as financial loss for the society. The Heritage Foundation estimates that U.S. taxpayers pay about $20,000 per year to every household headed by a high school dropout. 11
I would much prefer students stay in school taking regular courses and graduate than be coerced into taking AP courses and drop out. We can live without all those DECEPTIVE accolades for being first in the nation in increase of students taking AP courses.
1. "Arkansas taking college prep lead" On June 6, a newspaper article touted that "Arkansas posted the greatest increase in student Advanced Placement (AP) participation in the nation for the second consecutive year." 1 http://www.nwanews.com/adg/News/192234/
2."Surprise, y’all !" On June 9, Arkansas Democrat Gazette editorialists, who constantly write editorials pumping up the Arkansas Department Education and trying to prove that government takeover of schools has been successful, followed up with an article crowing about this supposed success. 2ee this link fort his article: http://www.nwanews.com/adg/Editorial/192503/
3. "Arkansas taking college prep lead" Neither article mentioned how many students take these tests and fail them (by 2003 law the state is required to pay $83.00 a test). http://www.nwanews.com/adg/News/192234/
4. ADE State Report Card 06 - In Little Rock, 204 students at McClellan Magnet High School took the AP courses, and zero students passed the AP test in 2006. http://normessasweb.uark.edu/src1/School3.php?school=6001064&Submit3=Submit
5 ADE State Report Card 06 - In another school in Little Rock in 2006 , J. A. Fair 314 took AP courses, and 2 passed the test. http://normessasweb.uark.edu/src1/School3.php?school=6001063&Submit3=Submit
6. School Report card for 2006: http://normessasweb.uark.edu/src1/State3.php (Scroll about three/fourths way down and see Advanced Placement Courses or just go to Edit and find and type in AP.
11."The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Immigrants to the U.S. Taxpayer http://www.heritage.org/Research/Immigration/sr14.cfm also see this link: "Advice For Education Secretary Spellings where the direct quote came from. http://www.eagleforum.org/column/2007/june07/07-06-13.html