Will DeSantis Defeat the College Board?
Perhaps. But Advanced Placement courses are not the solution to deficient curricula
We’re sticking with the education theme this week! This is for paying subscribers only, but if you know anyone who would be interested and that person isn’t already a free subscriber, they can noodle around for free. So please:
Many years ago, I was at the annual business meeting of a women’s history organization, where one of our members delivered an impassioned plea for this feminist group to get involved with the American History Advanced Placement (AP) test.
This moment occurred early in George Bush’s first term when, in addition to attacking Iraq and Afghanistan, the administration intensified standardized testing implemented under the Clinton administration by passing the No Child Left Behind Act. NCLBA governed K-12 education between 2002 and 2015 and proposed to improve American education by the following method: holding poor-performing schools, usually, those serving poor, of color, or otherwise disadvantaged students, “accountable” for student outcomes.
Accountability was enforced by the following method: more testing. “Failing schools” would be identified not just by their low test scores but by the scores of the poorest performing students. Such schools would establish targets for bringing these, or all, students up to proficiency. If the school failed to make swift progress, states could replace leadership teams, allow parents to transfer their children to a new school (thus implementing school choice in states and localities that did not have that option), and/or close the school. Better-resourced schools could generally meet the standards. However, equally predictably, for “poorer schools,” as one journalist wrote in 2015, “the law was like quicksand.” Even the libertarian Cato Institute gave it a thumbs down.
Only one segment of our society benefitted from NCLB: those who administer standardized tests, which, over 13 years, became a multi-billion dollar sector of the education economy—paid for by tax dollars that might instead have gone to education.
So, at the beginning of what became a genuine political crisis for education, one that was siphoning tax dollars into the pockets of a burgeoning testing industry, I strongly opposed the idea that our organization should have anything to do with supporting any K-12 testing protocol, especially the AP, which pretends to be a college-level course taken in high school and is nowhere near rigorous enough to meet that standard.
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