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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Advanced Placement is more than just a passing rate, Hillsborough superintendent Elia says



6a00d83451b05569e201156f2c816e970c  If any school district in Florida has bought into the notion of increasing participation in Advanced Placement courses, it's Hillsborough County. And superintendent MaryEllen Elia believes in the effort — even if the student passing rate on the AP exams isn't as good as some might like.

When she saw the Times' recent story and editorials about poor AP pass rates, she felt compelled to make the case for AP. The courses are as much about improving teaching and learning, pushing students to higher levels of success and ambition, as they are about a test score, she argues.

"Many students who don't pass the AP exam do well in the class, and they are better for having been exposed to the higher level coursework," Elia writes in a column appearing in today's St. Petersburg Times. "Research that has been shared with the Times shows that students benefit from participating in AP classes, even if they don't pass the exam. They are better prepared for getting into college and succeeding when they get there."

We all know students like this. Ones who made a 1 on AP calculus, but then soared through college calc, remarking how easy it was after the AP course. Yet many of us also have met students who have struggled through AP, learning little and wishing they hadn't been there.

Maybe all of this serves as a wakeup call that, while it was important to expand access to AP, now it's time to see if schools opened the door a little too wide. Elia is in a position to conduct that conversation. Can't wait to see where she goes with it.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:45am]


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