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Parent Questions District's AP Report

Richard Lerner believes lumping numbers together may hide a four-year decline in test scores.

In January, Richard Lerner asked the Board of Education  for a little more information than they provided during a public presentation on Advanced Placement (AP) test scores.

Lerner asked a specific question: Why had the report lumped all scores between 3 and 5 into one group?

At Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting, held at , Lerner said he suspects that by lumping together such a wide range (tests are scored from 1-5), the district could hide falling test scores while giving the impression of solid performance. The difference between a score of 3 and a score of 5 is a big one, Lerner said; a test score of 3 usually won’t earn a student any college credit. Most colleges and universities require an AP test score of 4 or 5.

Lerner said he commends the district for attracting more students to the AP classes, but he can’t help but worry that scores are falling, in some case significantly.

He did a little research, and found that Calculus AB scores fell from an average of 3.6 in 2007 to 2.2 at , and from 2.3 to 1.7 at , he said. North Farmington scores fell from 3.1 to 2.5, Lerner added.

“Over the same period, the number of students receiving a 4 or 5 on their Calculus AB test, which would earn them college credit, has dropped from 60 percent at Farmington to 14 percent, and from 14 percent to zero at Harrison,” he said. North Farmington fell from 36 percent to 25 percent.

Lerner looks to block scheduling versus trimesters as a possible reason. Prior to 2007, high schools operated on block schedules and semesters. Since then, high school students have been on a trimester schedule.

Whatever the reason, Lerner asked the board to “bring out AP data into the light of day and make data public on the (district) website,” as well as invite public input on improving the courses, and share the information with a Block Scheduling Study Committee so committee members can determine the effectiveness, or lack of it, of trimester scheduling.

Board members did not respond to Lerner's presentation.

 

Calculus AB average AP score

 

Calculus BC average AP score

Year

2007

2008

2009

2010

 

2007

2008

2009

2010

Farmington

3.6

2.9

2.4

2.2

 

5.0

4.7

4.7

4.5

Harrison

2.3

2.3

2.3

1.7

 

3.8

3.3

3.1

3.4

North Farmington

3.1

3.3

2.8

2.5

 

2.4

3.6

4.2

3.6

Chart courtesy Richard Lerner

Miranda April 14, 2011 at 02:14 PM
I appreciate seeing this data as it is something I have suspected watching my son and his friends go through AP classes. He is a senior and I know how much he has struggled under the trimester system. Thank you, Farmington Patch and Mr. Lerner, for making this valuable data available.
Carol Lundberg April 14, 2011 at 05:07 PM
Miranda, did he start high school when the schools were still on semesters? I have wondered what ever happened to good old-fashioned semesters. Six classes per day, 50 minutes each.
Miranda April 16, 2011 at 03:28 AM
Carol, he started the either the first or second year that trimesters were rolled out. The one good thing is that he had struggled through middle school math and, because of the trimester schedule, he was able to take a one-term algebra prep course before moving into the freshman algebra. It turned out to be a very pivotal class for him. However, it definitely reduced his learning in most of his core classes where it was either too much information shoved into too short a time period or he would have core classes scheduled for the 1st and 3rd trimester. His foreign language and math classes certainly suffered because of the split scheduling and he did not feel like he was prepared enough for several AP exams.
richard lerner April 16, 2011 at 02:59 PM
There are 18 different subject areas that FPS reported on. For many areas, the results were very positive. The issue is that the numbers were presented as being very positive across the board, which was not the case. It was also put forward that the decline in scores in some areas was due to the increase in the number of students taking the exams. However, the data does not support that contention. Hopefully, FPS will respond to the request that the raw data be made public on their web site so interested parties can see both the good and the bad.

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