Useless Honors – 2017 Advanced Placement Honor Schools

News outlets and blogs across the Metro Atlanta area are touting that the College Board and GA DOE are recognizing DeKalb County Schools as having “17 High Schools placed on the state and national Advanced Placement (AP) honors lists”.

Unfortunately, this “honors list” is the equivalent to a participation trophy. It’s really just a “thank you” note to the school district for spending so much money with The College Board.

These awards are based on enrollment and not academic achievement. If no teacher ever showed up to a single AP class and every student failed every AP exam, sixteen of those seventeen high schools listed would still have been named 2017 AP Honors Schools.

AP Classes in South DeKalb were an EPIC FAILURE this past year.

The 2017 AP Honors Schools are named in six categories

  1. AP Challenge Schools are schools with enrollments of 900 or fewer students and students testing in four of the core areas (English, math, science, and social studies).
  2. AP Access and Support Schools are schools with at least 30 percent of the AP exams taken by Black or Hispanic students and 30 percent of students passed with a 3 or higher.
  3. AP Merit Schools are schools with at least 20 percent of the total student population taking AP exams and at least 50 percent of all AP exams earning scores of 3 or higher.
  4. AP STEM Schools are schools with students testing in at least two AP math courses and two AP science courses (AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Statistics, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics 1, AP Physics 2, AP Physics C, AP Computer Science A).
  5. AP STEM Achievement Schools are schools with students testing in at least two AP math courses and two AP science courses and at least 40 percent of exam scores on AP math and science exams earning scores of 3 or higher.
  6. AP Humanities Schools are schools with students testing in the following AP courses: at least one ELA course, two social science courses, one fine arts course and one world language course.

It appears to me that citing statistics on how many students are enrolled in AP courses has become a trendy but useless metric. What does that number really tell us? It certainly isn’t an indicator of the quality of education or achievement. At best, it is giving people a false sense of progress and success at their school. At worst, it undermines instruction in both AP and non-AP classes.

The AP Honors Schools, however, are a good indicator of who is dishing out a lot of money to the College Board for these AP Exams.

Related Posts
  Mar 2, 2017 – March 3, 2017 – Whoop De Doo – 2017 Advanced Placement Honor Schools
  Feb 21, 2017 – Feb 21, 2017 – EPIC FAILURE – AP Classes in South DeKalb
  Mar 6, 2016 – March 7, 2016 – Board approves Purchase of AP Exam for all students
  Mar 6, 2016 – AP Exams – Tax Dollars

33 responses to “Useless Honors – 2017 Advanced Placement Honor Schools

  1. Kim Gökçe (DIO's Butt Munch)

    Well, Stan, I hope you are seated. I agree with you that AP as a ranking criteria is of little or now value. Like many “academic rankings” it can be used simply a way to game the system. Schools have been trained by U.S. News & World Report rankings, GreatSchools.org rankings, and other similar ranking systems that “participation trophies” like you mention can have a real impact on perception. And whose perception?

    Realtors.

    I love my Realtor friends but they are part of the problem you are pointing to in your post. Realtors and their customers want a simple, one rating (One-to-Ten points, Five Star system, or U.S. News ranking) system to drive their decision making. We know that the devil (or archangel) is in details but who has time for that when there’s thousands of dollars of commission at stake?

  2. Stan, hold on just a minute.

    Three of the AP Honors are based on AP exam scores in addition to participation, so I think they are more than “participation trophies.” These are:
    AP Access and Support Schools – at least 30% of exams scored 3, 4, or 5
    AP Merit Schools – at least 50% of exams scored 3, 4, or 5
    AP STEM Achievement Schools – at least 40% of exams scored 3, 4, or 5

    Chamblee Charter HS and DeKalb School of the Arts received all 3 of these AP honors.
    Dunwoody HS and Lakeside HS received AP Merit and AP STEM Achievement honors.
    DeKalb Early College, Druid Hills HS, and Southwest DeKalb HS earned AP Access & Support honors.

    So 7 DCSD high schools earned substantive AP honors, rather than the ’17 AP Honor schools’ cited by the post on the DCSD website.

    The DCSD website quotes Dr. Green: “We are proud of each of these campuses, as this honor validates our belief in the rigorous instruction and dedication that is delivered daily,” said Superintendent R. Stephen Green. “This year, we are even more proud to have added five additional campuses to this list. This is one more example of how our schools are places of deep and effective teaching and learning.”

    If there was ‘deep and effective teaching and learning’ at all 17 campuses, then all 17 schools would have earned substantive AP honors.

    Although the wasting of money troubles me greatly, I am even more concerned that DCSD is so desperate for any award that they overstate the achievement of their schools. Maybe this is just ‘spin’ by our highly paid Communications team, or maybe participation in AP courses is what DCSD cares about, rather than student performance.

  3. chamblee getting screwed

    Gokce you just don’t like it because Cross Keys didn’t win diddly. You can bet that if CK was on the lists that Anonymous mentioned, that you would be singing the praises from the mountain top.

  4. dekalbteacher

    Anonymous,

    The awards you note go to schools with a percentage of exams, not students, that earn a 3, 4, or 5. Therefore, some smart students who may or may not be supported by their schools may be carrying the scores of many others.

  5. Stan Jester

    7 DeKalb High Schools Win AP Honors For Academic Achievement – While 30% – 50% pass rate isn’t necessarily impressive, it’s at least a reflection of some kind of academic achievement.

  6. SeeMyLawyer

    Stan, DCSD is giving directives to employees to record only 40 hours a week even if they work 45- 50 hours. This is illegal, unethical yet DCSD has TRUSTed as an initiative.

  7. Stan Jester

    Can you forward that directive to me?

  8. Kim Gokce (DIO's Butt Munch)

    Oh, Screwed. Of course I would. And I do every time because I believe in positive reinforcement and I know people like you hate it when minority, immigrant kids do better than your kid (that’s not supposed to happen, is it?). It gives me perverse pleasure and I still love you my favorite troll. Keep it coming and I’ll keep rooting for my unworthy kids!

  9. Kim Gokce (DIO's Butt Munch)

    … and your proclamation is showing your bias again … CK is regularly recognized for achieving an 8p on many different AP dimensions as a Title 1 School a minority school and simply for doing well. You really should do more homework and less extemporaneous criticisms of these kids.

  10. chamblee getting screwed

    Chamblee is on this list. Where’s Cross Keys?

  11. Those in the system, and those who used to be in the system, will tell you the district does not put those kinds of directives in writing. The regional supers are told it verbally in their admin meetings and told to call all their principals. The principals are told to communicate it in staff meetings. That way there are no written docs to track. Has been going on this way for years.

  12. What employees is the school district asking to enter 40 hours even if it’s more? Kitchen staff, bus drivers, teachers, etc … ? I’m curious as to why it matters.

    Personally, I would express my eagerness to comply with all directives and then ask for a quick email restating the directive. If they do not provide you with one, then send them a short email expressing your understanding of the directive and to please correct any misinterpretations of the directive. How all of that goes will give you a good indication of how above board the directive is.

    I’m not a lawyer, so do not take anything I say as legal advice or a legal opinion.

    The federal law that controls overtime rules in Georgia is called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). As you may know, FLSA requires employers to pay employees an overtime wage of 1.5 times the employee’s normal salary for each hour in excess of 40 the employee works in a seven-day workweek. However, FLSA exempts many types of employees from the overtime mandate … like teachers, principals and others that are administrative or professional in nature.

  13. Stan, Unfortunately, it’s not that easy if you want to keep your job. In most companies, your suggested actions would be totally acceptable – you would probably have received the directive in writing to start with but if you didn’t, asking would be seen as acceptable. In DCSD, asking for an email restating the directive will be seen as insubordinate. Sending an email confirming what you were told will get you sent to facilities, DOLA, athletics or some other less desirable location. One serves the district so you can be sent anywhere…Most won’t take that risk….this is why years ago, after the Crawford Lewis fiasco, an internal auditor was hired that was to be a direct report to the BOE rather than administration. That position didn’t last long.

  14. Kim Gökçe (DIO's Butt Munch)

    Screwed: In the AP Humanities if you need help looking. You can also find it here: 1626 N Druid Hills Rd, Atlanta, GA 30319

  15. chamblee getting screwed

    I also see 25% – 30% pass rates. Sad!

  16. Kim Gökçe (DIO's Butt Munch)

    Don’t be sad, Screwed! There are endless ways to pour disdain on me and on “those kids” you despise so. You just have to keep at it! I believe in you.

  17. chamblee getting screwed

    There you go again Gokce! I don’t despise the kids or you. But I do despise your bullshit.

  18. Let’s get back to the topic at hand please.

  19. Russell Carleton

    A simple question then. What pass rate should a school need to demonstrate before they are deserving of support for their AP program, whether in the form of the district paying for AP exam fees or even supporting the existence of an AP program to begin with.

  20. I advocate for access and choices to as many rigorous academic programs as possible. However, given limited funding, we have to be creative in finding ways to make these programs accessible to students that may not otherwise take them at their own high school (i.e., multiple high schools come together to form one class, classes at local college, etc …).

    An 85% failure rate is indicative of a problem. Tax payer money spent on those exams would be better spent fixing whatever the problem is.

  21. Stan, how can we contact you as a Board member through email or phone? Our families depend on us to provide. Leadership will not put in writing about reporting only 40 although more hours worked..

  22. Kim Gökçe (DIO's Butt Munch)

    Hear, hear! Back to where we started, then. I agree that these figures are telegraphing a problem. I think that some are looking to “throw out the baby with the bath water.” The fact that some sort of incentives and or financial support is offered to low income families’ students isn’t the controversy. If the school system spends $10,000 subsidizing AP test participation by low income students at a particular school, I don’t see that you are calling that the problem.

    If I’m reading you correctly, Stan, you are looking for the underlying issue with the extremely high failure rates. Depending on what that may be, the $10,000 or any amount of money may or may not solve whatever that problem turns out to be. Asking the question is completely valid. I would like to know what is fundamentally going on in those cases, too.

  23. If you look at the failure rates in the other post, no title 1 school scores above 25-30% or so except 2, Dekalb Early College (?) and SW Dekalb (just barely). So, the question is what do those schools do that others don’t? And, is that the best use of taxpayer money? If $10,000 is being spent on schools where the failure rate is over 2/3, then that is not a good use of money. What is the issue? Its one of three issues: 1) the faculty do not know how to effectively teach the material, 2) the students are unwilling to put in the effort to pass the test, or 3) the students don’t have the ability to actually pass the tests. One or more of the three may be at play here.

    This gets back to the point I was trying to make when the noise from a few frequent posters on this forum drowned it out. Shouldn’t the money go to the schools and students who have a legitimate chance of passing this test (and maybe enable them to take multiple tests for free) than a student/school where there is very little chance of that occurring? And I don’t mean take it away from the handful of kids in schools that are serious students and have a legitimate chance to pass. But for those schools/students where this is throwing money down the sink, I have this requirement – fix the problem/issue and then get the funding back.

  24. I want to get to the bottom of this issue and I hope that someone can answer this question for me. This is a 10+ year question that just keeps getting swept under the rug.

    How can schools make up their own rules on deadlines and pricing of the exam?

    From Chamblee High School this week…..

    This year, DCSD will fund one exam for all DCSD students enrolled in an AP course during the 2016-2017 school year. The Georgia Department of Education will fund one additional exam for students who qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch/AP exam fee reduction again this year.

    In May 2017, the cost for additional AP exams is $93.00 per test. Students who qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch/AP exam fee reduction will pay $53.00 per test. Please contact us should you have additional questions about exam costs.
    Payments need to be handed to Gail Barnes during lunch(A-D) or after school(3:20-3:45) by check or money order.
    All checks and money orders need to be payable to Chamblee Charter High School.
    Please include student name and number in the memo section of the check or the money order.

    From Lakeside High School from 1/29/2017 (Please note the price difference and the deadline for the exam)

    The 2017 AP Exams will be administered over two weeks in May. Click here to view the schedule. The cost per exam is $99, but DCSD pays for one exam per student (per year). Students on free/reduced lunch receive one additional exam paid for by GaDOE. To register, click here. The deadline to register is Wednesday, March 1. Please note: NO LATE REGISTRATION will be accepted.

  25. From Dunwoody HS

    February 21, 2017

    Dear Dunwoody High School Advanced Placement Parent(s), Guardian(s):

    The DeKalb Board of Education approved funding to provide a degree of financial support for all students. This funding supports our District’s philosophy to increase access to these rigorous academic programs.

    The District will fund one exam for all DCSD students enrolled in an AP course during the 2016-2017 school year. The Georgia Department of Education will fund one additional exam for students who qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch/AP exam fee reduction again this year, for a total of two (2) exams.

    AP Exams will cost $93.00 per test, which includes a small processing fee for online registration. Students who qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch/AP exam fee reduction will pay $53 per test if they take more than two tests.

    College Board determines the fee to take an AP Exam. AP Exam Dates and Fees for 2017 are published at this link:
    http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/exam/calendar/190165.html.

    We are excited to again offer Online Registration, which includes payment options, for the AP Exams this year. Registration will begin on Thursday, February 23rd and ends on Monday, March 20th. The link for the AP Registration Site is on the front page of the Dunwoody website under Dunwoody High School News. Remember, whether your test is free or you need to pay for it, you must sign up in order to reserve a test for you. If you do not reserve a test, one will not be ordered for you.

    Respectfully,

    Thomas S. McFerrin
    Principal

    “The School Cannot Live Apart From The Community”

  26. Thanks, Anon, at least they do not charge $99 per exam like LHS and they have a different cut off deadline. Why is the county not setting the deadline date for all schools and telling the area high schools that they can only charge what the College Board charges? It makes no sense to me.

    So if you go off of LHS’s newsletter – everyone pays $99 per exam (after your free one(s))
    LHS DEADLINE WAS 3/1

    DHS and CCHS have the same wording. Everyone’s first test is free from the county. F/RL get a second test for free from the state. Non F/RL second test will cost $93 and the third test for F/RL will be $53.
    CCHS DEADLINE IS 3/17
    DHS DEADLINE IS 3/20

    It just looks like to me this should be the same (deadlines and prices) at all schools, just like applying your child to the lottery. All schools should have the same price and the same cut-off dates. Am I crazy for thinking that? Also, what are schools like LHS doing with their extra money that they have been collecting for years? Do other schools charge extra than what is required by College Board to take the exam? What are other high schools in the county doing? If you can provide that information I would greatly appreciate it.

  27. According to the College Board site, schools pay them $93/test and the schools get a $9 rebate. That means any school charging more than $93, is building quite a pot of money to use with no accountability measures in place. No school should be taking advantage of their students like that. Totally not transparent.

  28. Lynn, you are spot on with your questions. I would really like to know the answer as well.

  29. Mr Jester

    I am not sure of the best place to post this. Is there going to be an Agenda posted for the BOE Meeting & Work Session. Are they still scheduled for March 20, 2017? I checked in the usual place and there was no agenda. It would be great to see it before the day of the meeting. Lots of us work and are not able to see the work session that takes place at 2:00 in the
    afternoon.

    Thank you

  30. Hello Joy, There is a board meeting this Monday March 20. You can find the board calendar here:
    http://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/board-of-education/board-meetings/

    The agenda is usually posted on eBoard no later than the Friday before the board meetings.

  31. Thank you so much.

  32. NOTICE OF DEKALB BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETINGS

    The DeKalb Board of Education will hold the following meetings on Monday, March 20, 2017:
    Robert R. Freeman Administrative Complex
    1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard

    2:00pm Work Session, Committee of the Whole and Executive Session for legal & personnel matters
    5:30pm Public Budget Input Hearing
    5:45pm Community Input Session
    7:00pm Business Meeting