I guess I’m not clear on what the issue is here.
Since 2009, the number of AP exams taken by Houston Independent School District students has almost doubled. And last year the district reached its highest number of passing scores, marking a 36 percent increase from two years ago.
Still, most students perform poorly on the tests.
Roughly 70 percent of the 21,637 AP exams given in HISD last spring yielded failing scores. At Kashmere High School, students took 127 exams and passed none.
HISD Superintendent Terry Grier launched an aggressive effort two years ago to increase enrollment in AP courses, arguing that more students deserved exposure to college-level work, and to require that they take the related exams. As an incentive, Grier decided the district would pay the test fees. The district spent about $1 million on the fees over the last two years.
“I think it’s money very well spent,” Grier said. “Improving rigor is one of our goals.”
As it should be, and having more students take AP tests is a good way to measure and help achieve that. Going by the students’ comments in this story, the experience of taking the test was positive for them regardless of the result. I consider this a first step. If in a few years time the percentage of students passing AP tests hasn’t improved, then HISD will need to re-evaluate what it’s doing. For now, I say they’re going in the right direction.