PEORIA, IL -- Research from activist Sharon Crews reveals a discrepancy between the grades of Peoria District 150 students in the Advanced Placement classes, and their test scores on the AP tests.
The grades were good -- the test scores poor, she found.
Either the grades were inflated or the courses watered down, she told the Peoria District 150 School Board during the public comment section of its August 24 meeting.
Her comments are reproduced below.
Here is a recording of the comments:
Activist Terry Knapp questioned the many tests required of students, and said the testing companies lobby legislators to require them. "It's ridiculous to put money in these things," he said, adding many students don't plan to go to college and don't care about doing well on the tests.
He also questioned the small first senior class at the Quest charter school, said to be only 40 students. "What kind of curriculum are we providing them?" he asked.
They are also playing sports with Peoria Heights High School, he said, when they should be playing with Peoria high school students.
Two others spoke to praise a staff member at Trewyn School, whose grant ran out but who has continued to work with the students a volunteer.
In her response, the new superintendent said she is looking at grants for her.
-- Elaine Hopkins
Sharon Crews' comments:
What a difference a month makes. After the meeting, Dr. Kherat told me that she has already put the AP data on the agenda for the next meeting with her staff. She had already recognized a problem and had notified counselors to be sure the students enrolled in AP classes wanted to be enrolled. She is truly the leader District 150 needs now.
Early in my career, many students were not given the opportunity to be in enriched or AP classes. That inequity has changed over time, but I understand concerns that not enough has yet been done to include all qualified students.
However, preparation for these advanced courses begins in kindergarten, not in high school. I am concerned that discipline problems are taking away so much of that preparation time in the lower grades—and the problems continue in high school.
I hope that all of you share my concerns about the noticeable lack of correlation between AP test scores and some Semester Averages.
Of the 597 AP tests taken 2nd semester of last year, only 21 had a score of 5. However, 242 of the 597 had an A for a semester course average. Seventy-three passed the test with a 4, but 169 had a B semester average. Therefore, only 94 passed the test with a 4 or 5, but 411 students had A or B semester averages. Of the 119 students who received a qualifying test score of 3, 105 received a C average—a correlation that is quite reasonable. The bottom two scores take us back to inexplicable. Of the 597, 126 had a test score of 2 and 61 had a D semester average. 258 of 597 had a test score of 1, but only 19 students had an F semester average.
The volume and depth of AP material have always made course content difficult enough to make only above average students eligible. I don’t think you have a choice but to consider that the large number of semester A’s and B’s in AP courses indicate that course content was watered down and/or grades were inflated Most of these students have graduated—how did these inflated grades and failed AP tests make them college ready?
Now that there is 2-way communication between teachers and administrators, I believe that such dialogue will explain the data.
Were teachers told not to give grades below a C? The numbers seem to support such a directive.
Were students comfortable with the pace and difficulty of the courses?
How were students chosen for AP classes? Did they have a choice?
How do AP scores compare/contrast with AP scores 5, 10, or 15 years ago?
Teachers have always been good judges as to which students have the possibility of passing an AP test. Were they consulted? - 30 -