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Pinellas school district: Where's proof of grade inflation in AP?



While we're on the subject of Advanced Placement, remember this Oct. 22 St. Petersburg Times editorial about AP classes in Pinellas (and how, in the Times view, the district needs to do better with them)? Here's the response that ran in today's letters from Bill Lawrence, the district's director of advanced studies:

This editorial refers to a Times "study" showing that too often, high school class grades in Advanced Placement courses may be followed by low scores on AP exams, a disconnect that "undermines the integrity of the entire system." One would assume that much research had been gathered on the correlation between AP class grades and AP exam scores. Yet as director of advanced studies and academic excellence for the Pinellas County School District, I have reviewed the College Board's and other AP-related research reports and have yet to discover any scholarly research to support the Times' assertion.

Further, I find it stunning that the Times had received course grades of only one Pinellas AP teacher at the time the "study" was conducted.

The paper subsequently requested course grades for another 11 teachers whose students scored a 1 on the AP exam, but those results were not part of the reporter's research. Beyond the misrepresentation that a thorough analysis had been conducted, the Times reviewed and reported only Pinellas County schools' 2010 AP exam results. Where is the comparative data from other Tampa Bay area school districts as was reported last year?

Like many school districts nationwide, Pinellas has made a deliberate decision to open access to AP courses to all capable students who desire the challenge of rigorous college-level courses, particularly traditionally underrepresented minority and low-income students. Is the performance of Pinellas students on AP exams where we would like it to be? No, but of the 12 teachers referred to in the editorial who did not have a single student pass the exam, three no longer teach AP classes; seven are in their first or second year teaching AP. They are being provided access to ongoing training from the College Board, including the new College Board AP Summer Institute, a partnership between the district and USF St. Petersburg. Each AP teacher's performance is reviewed annually by high school principals, and additional training or alternative teaching assignments are part of the ongoing review of each school's AP program.

Bill Lawrence, director, advanced studies and academic excellence, Pinellas County schools, Largo

[Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 10:54am]


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