Harford County students scored above the state and national averages on the Critical Reading and Mathematics sections of the SAT Reasoning Test, according to data released by the College Board today.
Compared to 2008, Harford County test-takers’ overall performance improved in Critical Reading (two points), remained steady in Mathematics, and dropped by two points in Writing. Harford County mean scores exceed the state in Critical Reading (507 versus 500) and in Mathematics (521 versus 502) while dropping below the state in Writing (488 versus 495).
The number of test-takers in Harford County decreased in 2009 with 1,350 graduates participating; approximately 26 percent of these were minority students. Compared to the state, African-American students in Harford County scored higher than their Maryland counterparts in both Critical Reading and Mathematics, but averaged slightly lower in writing.
“We are aligning our curriculum to ensure that our students have the skills necessary to do well on national tests,” said Superintendent Robert M. Tomback. “While progress has been made, there is still work to be done to increase student readiness and participation on these assessments.”
Meanwhile, Harford County participation in Advanced Placement (AP) assessments increased slightly from 1,230 students in 2008 to 1,253 students in 2009, at the same time total high school enrollment in the county dropped by approximately 240 students.
The total number of AP participants and the number of tests given has increased each year since 2005.
Females continued to lead males in participation in 2009, with 719 females versus 534 males taking an AP test that year.
Bel Air, C. Milton Wright and Fallston high schools accounted for nearly 60 percent of AP test takers in Harford County in 2009. As a part of school improvement efforts, schools are accelerating student performance to ensure greater participation in AP courses. In particular, the school system continues to address its goal of increasing minority student participation and success in all AP courses.
Here’s how HCPS stacks up against the national averages:
MATH READING WRITING
HCPS 521 507 488
Nat’l 515 501 493
Working on getting school by school data, along with AP pass rates…
There is also a report out about the ACT exam and the news isn’t great either. Overall, students are woefully underprepared to go to college and take Science classes (only 34% were ready). For African Americans, it was only 8%. There are suggestions about how to improve college readiness, but I know firsthand from having kids in high school, it isn’t happening and it has nothing to do with money.
Speaking of money, it is very important to find out how many students are actually passing the AP tests – not how many take them. Anyone can take the test even someone who didn’t take the class. If the chance of passing the test is fairly low, a parent is throwing away money. All parents in Harford County school should be able to look at the schools and see what the pass rates are in certain subjects and for certain teachers. The teachers can make a HUGE difference and can help test takers determine whether or not they have much of a chance of even passing.
Please check out this article Cindy wrote about a year ago. It talks about the “pass” rate of the AP tests in the county decreasing – http://bit.ly/37xAuQ
Elaine hit the nail on the head. The question that immediately came to mind as I read this post was –
How many “participants” actually PASSED the AP tests?
It’s great that the participation level in AP testing has increased but that’s really only half of the story.
College Board says that a 3,4,or 5 on an AP test is considered a “pass”. BUT most colleges won’t give you college credit unless you make a 4 or 5 on the test, depending on the subject. Many High Schools offer lots of AP classes, the real question for the graduates is “How many college credits did you get?”
Some colleges in certian subjects that are non-major courses will offer you credit for a 2.
The AP game with the challenge index is that schools are pushing kids into AP courses who do not belong and pushing to have them test. This waters down the value of the grade and the pool of kids. putting a greater demand on the teeachers to take teach them since not all teachers can do it. Plus the kids taking 6 or 7 AP courses. Only a few kids should be doing that county wide not many in a school. Add on top of that the lack of prerequisites for some courses.
The schools who have high pass rates have AP tracks for classes. A kid taking AP bio should have taken Honors Bio before han; Anatomy and Phys, Enviornmental Science and Micro before or concurrently with. This allows the AP teacher to build on a fondation instead of building it all in a year.
What colleges specifically will give credit for a 2? That basically means you don’t know the material. Many of the teachers are aware of what studens in their class are capable of passing the test and tell them they are not prepared. Those are the good teachers but unfortunately there are just as many who have never taught AP and aren’t familiar with the course content. The teachers should be well aware which students are unprepared for the test. My daugther take an AP test recently and got a 1. I wasted money and am very curious as to how the rest of the class did so I would know if it was her or maybe the teacher.
College Park (which is the flagship campus in Maryland) doesn’t accept 3 in any subject. Because so many students are taking AP classes and getting a 3, they have lost money on those kids not taking a particular class and have increased the score. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see other schools doing the same.
Your daughter’s teacher got a break down of who scored what in the class. The guidance department also got that information. They can’t give you names, but they should at least provide how many students scored 5’s, 4’s, etc.
Parents, that’s a great questions to ask at “Back to school night,” if you have a child taking AP classes. Ask the teacher what their pass rate is. That will help you decide if you want to pay for the test. If they have a low pass rate, you might question why even take AP.
I think the break down for school is availible from ETS or the college board.
I know some of the SUNY schools do but only for certian tests i.e. Physics BC if you are not a science major. My main point is that a student needs to be ready to a certian extent BEFORE they take the class. The trend of kids taking AP classes to inflate GPA’s with no serious desire to take the test waters down instruction for everyone. You should have taken Calculus before taking Physics BC. Sadly some are not doing that and this requires a school in some cases to offer two sections instead of one thus taking the best teachers away from teaching AP prep classes such as the AP Bio teacher who could teach A&P; or worse yet having more sections and a less skilled teacher teaching an AP course.
When I taught in High School (Not in Harford) we had an 8 period day. AP Bio had become rampent with kids using it to inflate their GPA’s and not even planning on taking the test. The teacher had 4 sections of AP Bio and only had 2 kids take the test. Both got 4’s mostly because of self teaching. With a good teacher and a good enviornment they would have gotten 5’s. She retired and I had been teaching A&P the year before and tutored the two kids after school and during our common lunch/planning. I was given the AP Bio courses but we only had 3 sections instead of 4 and offered it as a 2 credit course (90 minutes daily). Each section had a lot of kids. Upon return to school the AP cordinator, principal and myself explained to the kids this was not going to be an easy weighted A and if they wanted out they could have out then but that was it. Some took the offer but many who should have did not. the classes had about 30 kids in it a piece. I taught them like a college course using the Campbell textbook that most colleges used for Biology for majors. Grades went down and some kids tried to get out later to avoid “ruining their GPA’s” but where denied permission. I only had 12 kid’s take the test that year and 4 5’s, 7 4’s and a 2. What happened was word got out it was not a easy class and enrollment went down so that we could offer 2 smaller sections of it the following year 18 kids a piece and I could resume teaching A&P and Micro. I had 32 kids take the AP exam the next year and most of them got 3’s or better. In addition The year after that I became more aware of the material covered in classes to prepare for AP Bio and did not waste time recovering material that they had mastered in order to spend more time teaching concepts so they would be solidly grounded. The school no longer had a watered down AP Bio program and it eventually was applied to other courses. Did the AP enrollment go down? yes but over time the % taking the test went up and the passing scores went up.
Not all kids should take AP classes and if you are not serious about considering the test you should not take it. Doing so for an inflated GPA waters down the credibility of your school for the other students and the quality of education.
You can have great teachers who can not teach AP courses well. AP has alot of material to cover and a limited amount of time to cover it and not near the resources a college has to teach it. There are 8 labs (or where at the time) that must be done as two of the essays will be directly based on those labs. The equipment is expensive and disposable material can be expensive. Ordering Fruit flies for 90 kids can get expensive and if you force more kids in the group they derive less value from the lab and are less likely to remember it on the test. The Gel Electrophorisis lab was expensive. My first year I had to demo it because of cost and I can tell the kids did not derive the benifit from it they should have.
Watering down AP courses with students looking for a weighted A or B is a BAD idea. It hurts everyone.