Several years ago the School Board, and I believe I was a member, decided that we could raise the rigor of our high schools by installing the Advanced Placement Program in 3 of our 4 high schools. Thomas Jefferson already had the International Baccalaureate Program in place so it didn’t make sense to scrap a truly great program to adopt the Advanced Placement Program.
Over the past few years Principals have touted the increased participation in these programs as an indication of “improvement” in their schools. Some have boasted about the number of offerings to the public as an example of the move to “serious” high school.
Recently I decided to check on how well this program was really running. I encountered, as a school board member, “considerable obstacles” to even getting close to any real statistics for this. I was told that it was very expensive to coordinate class grades with AP test grades.
I offered to do the research myself and this was declined twice.
I am aware of a few examples. At one of our high schools 62 students enrolled in an “AP class”. Only 22 of them bothered to take the AP examination at the end of the course and only 11 of them got any credit for this course at a school such as University of Washington. At more competitive colleges only 6 would have received any consideration. Call it 10% if you like or 7% of you are really concerned.
The average score for that high school on the AP tests was 0.932 where one would need a “2″ to earn credit!
What does this tell us about the achievement in our high schools?
College admissions counselors from competitive colleges take a look at this and they doubt the veracity of the entire student population from that high school.
We have examples of kids, with high gpa’s, being declined admission to some pretty competitive colleges even though they were star athletes!
This is a clear message for parents, I would hope.
I have said many times “that you ‘can’ get an excellent education in Federal Way schools”. I did not say “that you ‘will’ get an excellent education in Federal Way schools.
If you leave the education of your children up to the “educators”, and the whims of your child, the district will allow them to join the “flow of the sheep” and the results are not that impressive.
There are three programs that I believe are the only real choices for academic achievement in the Federal Way School system. I would question any parent that is not aware of these programs and believes that their child is preparing for an academic future.
1. Federal Way Public Academy
Probably one of the finest public educations available in this state. Limited enrollment, not because I didn’t try to get it enlarged, prevents many students from getting the benefit of this superb education. If there were any parents with fortitude this could be changed.
2. Cambridge-Checkpoint Programs
Offered at Sacajawea and Lakota Middle Schools and Federal Way High School and sponsored by Cambridge University this program clearly prepares students for the competitive future that most of us believe happens after high school. Admission with advanced standing to some of the finest universities is a given.
3. International Baccalaureate Program
Offered only to 11th and 12th graders at Thomas Jefferson this is an excellent program, similar to Cambridge but only a two year program. It couples nicely with the Public Academy’s program.
Recently there was a featured article about the priorities that parents, at least some, have for their children in school. “Satisfaction” was rated above achievement!
I would suggest that elsewhere in the world “satisfaction” wouldn’t make the top 100 priorities. In this world if MySpace, U-Tube, Text Messaging, I-Pods, etc., are considered, “satisfaction” in school might be pretty hard to achieve if there is any “learning” involved.
Well, it is only the children and our future!