Reading Between the Lines


There’s good news and bad news for Virginia coming out of the College Board’s recent announcement of 2015 Advanced Placement tests. The good news is that Virginia has the nation’s sixth-highest percentage of public high school seniors qualifying for college credit on their AP exams: 29.8% of the commonwealth’s graduating seniors earned a score of three or higher on at least one exam.

That’s the angle provided by the Virginia Department of Education in announcing the results. The press release was devoid, however, of the usual puffery, quotes from senior administrators,  and rah-rahs from the governor.

Perhaps that’s because of the bad news. Virginia was one of only eight states to see a decline from the previous year in the percentage of students qualifying for college credit. Indeed, according to the College Board, Virginia and New York tied for the third worst year-to-year comparison in the country, with a decline of 0.2%.

You’ve always got to read between the lines. Always.


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4 responses to “Reading Between the Lines”

  1. Les Schreiber Avatar
    Les Schreiber

    Back in the day when I was teaching at Maggie Walker, I taught AP Government, Comparative Government and Micro and Macro Econ.One year the three of us who taught the government sequence had the best scores in the country and in econ we rarely had a score below 3. One of the problems in teaching AP courses is the calendar. Most districts start before Labour Day and the tests are given in early to mid May. The average student in Virginia starts out at a disadvantage because they have fewer instructional hours than students from districts that start as early as late August.

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    the more important point about AP is the overall scores at most schools in Va and especially so for things like math and science and the failure rate which approaches 50% in some schools.

    second is just how small a percentage of kids actually take the APs at some schools that are on their way to 4 yr college much less those that are not.

    If Jim could find and post the reference that shows Virginia school AP scores, I think folks would be shocked. It’s oddly not well reported in any consistent comparative way.

    For all the furor over SOLs, NCLB and Common Core – the AP scores reveal an undeniable truth about US schools as compared to other industrialized nations – and our ability to compete for 21st century global jobs of which fewer and fewer exist because of automation and globalization of basic labor work.

    and it’s NOT math or science for math or science sake nor testing for testing sake – it’s about SKILLS NEEDED – to succeed for so many jobs – ALONG WITH – the ability to communicate effectively and to work with others collaboratively – ALSO.

    and this in the context of some descending into talk of genes and race as if that had any useful relevance to anything other than the toxic nature of what some folks think we need to “understand”.

    and yes, ignorance is driving more of the “education” issue than just those in school to learn.

  3. I have to wonder how this AP business works in Virginia. Two of my kids took some AP courses at their main school. None of those courses were credited at the next higher level of education. Now maybe there was something wrong with my kids, but the coursework they took in the VoTech school that had transfer agreements with state schools ALL transferred with no problem. What am I missing here? Besides the money I spent to retake the college’s version of the AP courses that is.

  4. psychout Avatar

    Not really a bad news thing here. The slight drop in percentage of kids qualifying for college credit is not really a concern b/c states like Virginia (and New York) have large numbers of kids taking and passing the exams already. College credit is a bit of a misnomer anyway since the various departments at the various universities determine “credit” and scores of three (which qualify for credit sometimes) are often not awarded credit.
    I would also suggest that Virginia may have reached a near optimum level of kids taking the exams because some states (Florida, for example) push way too many kids into AP classes for which they are not prepared. So Florida can brag that it has the third highest percentage of kids passing the exams but it has a failure rate (based on exams taken) more than 10% above the national average). This occurs b/c passing percentages as reported by the College Board to the states are based on graduating seniors (whether they tested or not). So states are rewarded in a sense by getting as many students as possible to take the AP tests.
    Darrell, I think the thing to understand is that while dual credit courses can get you credit some places they do not have the widespread transferability of an AP test score.

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