Skip to comments.School districts move away from honors classes in favor of AP courses (to push minorities into AP's)
Posted on 05/24/2011 7:25:45 AM PDT by reaganaut1
Not long ago, honors courses were considered a hallmark of student achievement, a designation that impressed colleges and made parents beam.
Now, those courses are vanishing from public schools nationwide as administrators move toward a more inclusive curriculum designed to encourage underrepresented minority students to join their high-achieving peers in college-level Advanced Placement classes.
Fairfax Countys public schools are at the forefront of the movement, nudging would-be honors students toward more-rigorous AP courses, despite criticism from some parents that eliminating honors will have the reverse effect and lead some students to choose less-demanding standard education classes instead of AP.
Honors courses are generally taught from the same lesson plan as regular classes but at a faster pace and in greater depth. An AP course contains altogether more-challenging material charting a path that coheres to national standards, which are heavily endorsed by the Fairfax school system.
This fall, Fairfax will discontinue honors-level courses in subjects where an AP class is offered, drawing the ire of parents who want to restore what they call an academic middle ground. They have formed a group called Restore Honors Courses.
Prince William County took an even bolder stance about 10 years ago, doing away with the honors track. There has been resistance to that in other school systems including Montgomerys and Loudouns, where the honors option has been scaled back.
Considerable opposition from Fairfax parents has prompted the school board to review its decision to do away with high school honors courses that for years served as an alternative to basic and AP courses.
Weve found that traditionally underrepresented minorities do not access the most-rigorous track when three tracks are offered. But when two tracks are offered, they do, said Peter Noonan, Fairfaxs assistant superintendent for instructional services.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
I dunno, they could try studying and doing their homework like we had to.
I got an email yesterday from a high school senior girl who took AP English. There was not a single comma or period in her paragraph. Nothing was capitalized. Unbelievable.
I’ll keep on homeschooling my kids. They seem to have no problems getting scholarships and getting into colleges. And once there, they are at the tops of their classes. And I did it all without AP classes. Imagine!
Look for Fairfax AP scores to plummet. The next step will be 'dumbing down' the AP tests so that 'minorities' will 'perform better'.
The SATs and ACTs have already been dumbed down substantially. I helped my daughter study for them, and she got above 750 every time (and 800s on all three sections of the SAT, though not at the same time). The questions are easier and the test is shorter. And the "writing" section is a complete laugher.
Our high school (private, nominally Presbyterian - my daughter, my mother and I all graduated there) still has the three tier system and I'm sure will continue to do so.
I know I shout this all the time here but it's still true: School performance is FAR more dependent on the students' own willingness to work hard and desire to learn...which, comes from their PARENTS. Could it be that these "minority" kids come from households where the parents have 5th grade educations themselves and don't instill the value of education in their children? Naa, it would be racist to say that!
“A C? I guess the letter C stands for ‘My teacher is a racist’. I took AP Trigonometry to learn about stars and s%$#, not all these numbers. Find for X? Here it is, right here on the paper. How is that wrong?”
Just when you thought dumbing down education couldn’t get any worse.
My kids say the state AP exams are a joke. Luckily, we still have honors classes.
I guess AP will stand for: Almost Passing.
Now, they may "dumb down" the AP later, but until they do, I look at this as challenging the students more, not less.
Now that's progress!
State AP exams? Things may have changed, but AP was nationwide when I was a kid.
Check out Steve Sailer blog entry “The forever war over tracking” for good discussion of this
If you want college credit for an AP class I believe you have to pay a fee for the final exam and get a certain score on it ..B??? .. it would be interesting to see if the token students take the exams or pass them ..
I have mixed feelings here. AP courses now dominate kids lives. Add in all of the other resume building--and they don't have time for church or even just being a kid without becoming completely exhausted.
AP is not for everyone. In fact, I would argue that college itself is not for everyone. A college diploma is in fact "overvalued" in many cases. But the upper middle class is now obsessed with credentials.
I think you are confused. The Advanced Placement exams are national, not state exams, administered by the College Board.
Our high school started offering many more AP classes this year but I believe it was due to some large “grant” they received.
For our high school, the grant pays some of the test fees, some not. I had to pay 87.00 for the History AP test, I think, or it could have been the English one. Heck, I just write the checks as they ask for them. Daughter made a 36 on the English portion of the ACT and Auburn gives students making a 35-36 6 hours credit for English 101 & 102, I think, so the AP English score didn’t matter anyway.
Really? Where is AP a joke vs. Honors? Our kids, all the ones I know from 1st grade up to now in 11th, are working MUCH HARDER in the AP classes vs. the Honors. Many of these kids are having to “work” the first time in their public education lives. I’d say here the AP classes are much more in-depth and they are making them study, again, many for the first time after breezing through all the honor and T&G type classes.
Where I came from, “honors” and “AP” meant the same thing for seniors. For underclassmen, “honors” put you on track to the “AP” course as a senior, though you could work your way up into them (or down out of them) from year to year. I placed high enough on my AP exams to get 2 semesters college credit each for calculus and chemistry. (Add to that the fact that my college waived the freshman composition requirement based on my SAT verbal and high school class rank, and I actually finished my freshman year of college in one semester.)
For “non-academic” courses, an “honors” designation required putting in some form of extra work — in my music classes (band and chorus), honors students were required to put in the extra work and practice to audition for selection to the all-state music festival (oddly enough, I never made all-state chorus in CT, but I did make it to all-New England chorus my senior year — different auditions, different results, I guess).
The government AP exams then.
Depends on the college, I believe scores range from 1 to 5 with 5 receiving the most credit. 3 gets you maybe some credit. Below 3 you get nothing.
They just said the exam was easier than what they did in school.
"Here is a shocker: According to a study called "Whites See Racism as a Zero-Sum Game That They Are Now Losing" that appears in the May 2011 issues of Perspectives on Psychological Science, white people believe all-white racism is now a bigger problem than anti-black sentiment."
I have encouraged my children, two of whom have graduated high school with two years of AP credits, to use this basis in knowledge not to make their college education shorter, but to take more challenging college courses.
In my opinion, most high school classes should match the rigor of AP courses.
By the nineteen seventies University schools of education had practically eliminated courses on teaching the exceptional child. Today, such a course might exist as an elective. It was always a difficult sell to interest the prospective teacher of mediocre aptitude to take an interest in the best of his or her students. It is always so much easier to teach to the mediocrities.
I don't know. My daughter, who is in medical school and has a BA in biology, said that AP biology was one of the hardest courses she has taken.
Yeah, but I bet her self-esteem was AWESOME!/sarc
That sums up the situation I have observed with princess riverdawg and many of her friends. There is an “arms race” among the college-bound kids to accumulate the most resume-building “weapons,” including taking the largest possible number of AP courses, being deeply involved in extracurricular activities (but not in an unfocused way), and building a personal “narrative” or “story” for your college application that will attract the attention of some admissions officer. It's really out of control ...
Great, so let’s throw some kids into these harder AP courses that they have no business in so they can fail miserably and not learn half what they would have learned in a class that was to their level.
Homeschooling is inherently advanced placement because it’s teaching kids at the level they’re ready for instead of trying to fit 30-40 kids into the same rate of learning.
You have to pay to take the AP exams, I think. And it’s not cheap. I think that could be why the poor kids didn’t sign up for the AP classes if there was a middle tier available.
There is an obsession, but it partly stems from the fact it’s much harder to make a living without a college degree. Now, it’s hard to make a living WITH one, due to oversaturation and a reduction in the overall value of a degree since kids who shouldn’t have one are able to get one.
I took AP Biology in ‘95. I got a “3” which counted for a few elective credits in college.
It was exceedingly difficult.
Yes, the AP biology and AP chemistry courses were very difficult, but it’s not that hard to score a 3 on the AP exams, according to p.r.
Even in the 90s they had a lot of that.
I never did the “extra-curricular” thing much, I was kind of a dork, I didn’t get along with the “cool” kids, but didn’t have enough geek-cred to hang out with the geeks either...and my athletic ability is bested by Stephen Hawking. So I just - gasp! - focused on my studies! The horror!
Our older son is a high school senior, and I completely agree with your observations. The bright kids in our community have been busting their shoes for years to accumulate resume builders of all sorts. We see it in our Boy Scout troop, where many of the boys knock themselves out to get to Eagle and then stop coming to meetings, because their primary motivation was to add to their resume. They're accomplished good kids who are learning a great deal, but some of them are becoming drones in the process. Our sons have never gone to summer 'nerd camp'. They've always gone to traditional outdoor summer camp or Scout camp, and engaged in summer swimming and other activities. They work hard all year, and we want them to be well rounded young men who still know how to dream and innovate and not just spit back rote learning.
Our older son has wrapped up the last of his AP classes, and what we've seen is that many schools do not accept AP credits. The primary function of the AP classes has been to learn more and to demonstrate that he is willing to challenge himself. They have made him a stronger candidate for college applications, but will not save us much money on college tuition. He has decided not to attempt to place out of his college calculus or physics classes, because he thinks they are so fundamental to engineering that he'd rather repeat some content than take a chance on having an incomplete foundation.
Each student will choose a different path, and I think that's a good thing. Our public schools should be offering a range of options and solid guidance to students to help them choose the best courses and levels for their goals and abilities.
There's a phrase to trigger a gag reflex.
If the kids were given a more rigorous curricula starting in first grade, by the time they got to high school the AP level courses would not be so daunting.
I am also a big supporter of rigorous occupational courses for juniors and seniors who choose to go that direction. I want a well trained car mechanic just like I want a well trained doctor.
Thats interesting..I do not know much about ACT ..our schools use the new downward revised SAT’s
That's one of the dirty little secrets.
Yep, keep lowering the standard.
What are state AP exams?
Our sons are pretty cynical about the whole college testing process by now. They've been subjected to an endless process of standardized testing, accompanied by a seemingly endless stream of requests from us for checks to pay for this test, that test, this prep book and that . . .
Both of them opted to forgo the SAT prep course offered by the school, which came at a significant savings over the privately offered ones. They decided that they could prepare well enough without it. We agreed that they could take the SAT test in the fall of Junior year, which gave them time enough to re-group if they did poorly without the prep class. It worked for our older son, and in the fall we'll see about his brother.
What our sons tell us is that many of the hyper competitive kids (mostly Asians) in their school take the SAT's 5 or 6 times until they get scores they can live with. They also take SAT subject tests one at a time, rather than take two on a single day. It has something to do with being able to drop the scores they don't like without dropping the results of the entire day of testing. I don't recall now whether it's a case of not turning in the test booklet or whether they choose not to report the day's results. It's all a bit over the top for me.
There's a huge industry sucking our bank accounts dry over this. Between local school taxes, universities, testing services, and the sundry coaching, advising and preparatory goods and services, it's quite a racket.
Advanced Placement = Slackers free ride ticket
I think your son made a wise decision about the college calculus and physics classes. In my field, the AP course is something of a joke mainly because there are so few high school teachers who really know the subject. And it rarely hurts to sit through an important subject again, even if much of it is somewhat familiar.
He’s a sensible young man - most of the time. Some of his AP teachers have been excellent, and others not so good. Fortunately, he is astute enough to know the difference and adjust his plans.