Class Struggle: AP

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 10/15/2010

High schoolers barred from college-level courses

I expect there will be even more schools next year reaching the America's Best High Schools standard for inclusion than the 1,735 this year. The number has gone up every time I have done the list, beginning with just 243 schools in 1998. But proportionally, that is still quite small. This year's total represented only about 6 percent of all public high schools in the United States.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 10/15/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  America's Best High Schools, Challenge Index, access to AP courses, data show more acceptance of average students in challenging courses, many schools bar students with average GPAs or no teacher recommendations

Posted at 12:33 PM ET, 10/06/2010

'I was not allowed to take AP English'

My column on Charles Hebert Flowers High School requiring a 3.0 grade point average to take an Advanced Placement course, then dropping the rule after I asked about it, inspired many people who have been barred from AP and college prep courses to email me their stories. Here are two accounts from people who suffered because of the still widespread and wrongheaded view that only top students should be challenged.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:33 PM ET, 10/06/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Carolyn Elefant, I was not allowed to take AP English,, although denied a chance at AP, one becomes lawyer and author, the other a teacher

Posted at 07:00 PM ET, 09/26/2010

High school barred average students from AP

Flowers High School in Prince George's County was one of the few schools in the Washington area refusing to let average students challenge themselves in an Advanced Placement course. Students were told this year that AP English, biology, American history, calculus and most of the other college-level courses at the school were open only to those with at least a 3.0 grade point average. They also had to have written permission from a teacher.

By Jay Mathews  |  07:00 PM ET, 09/26/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Metro Monday | Tags:  3.0 average required, AP denied to average student, Advanced Placement, Charles Hebert Flowers High School, Prince George's County, principal Helena Nobles-Jones, school quickly drops its rule, violation of county policy

Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 09/15/2010

What D.C. schools could learn from the suburbs

Some of our suburban districts have made great strides in raising the achievement of low-income students with energetic policies that had to overcome resistance.

By Jay Mathews  |  06:00 PM ET, 09/15/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Local Living | Tags:  Arlington focus on black and Hispanic student achievement, D.C. suburbs have success in raising low income student achievement, Fairfax AP and IB programs, Montgomery County reading program

Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 09/05/2010

The real reason a whistleblowing teacher was transferred

My nominee for most effective whistleblower in the D.C. school system, Erich Martel, has finally gone too far in the eyes of some school administrators.

By Jay Mathews  |  06:00 PM ET, 09/05/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Metro Monday | Tags:  Erich Martel, Peter Cahall, principal and teacher disagreed over AP and learning styles, principal disliked teacher's anti-cheating methods, principal transfers teacher to distant school because of philosophical disagreements

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 07/27/2010

Two very different AP schools, both with good news

All over the country, schools are introducing more students to college-level courses. Some educators and parents are worried that it is too much, too soon. But I think that overlooks the power of good teaching done before the AP, IB and other introductory college courses begin. If that early preparation in working in high schools as different as Friendship and Washington-Lee, it seems to me it could work anywhere.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 07/27/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Friendship Collegiate Public Charter High School in the District, Friendship has 43 percent gain in passing AP tests, Unusual progress in AP courses, W-L has almost perfect passing rate in AP course given to ninth graders, Washington-Lee High School in Arlington County

Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 06/20/2010

Hispanic students taking AP Spanish: a scam?

Two of my children, whose parents can’t speak Spanish and didn’t take it in school, worked hard to learn that language and now use it in their jobs. They are truly bilingual. This impresses people. So why are we not similarly gratified when Hispanic students with fewer advantages than my kids work just as hard to master the same two important languages?

By Jay Mathews  |  10:00 PM ET, 06/20/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Metro Monday | Tags:  Is Hispanic students taking AP Spanish a scam, Theresa Vargas, charge that Wakefield AP scores plummet without AP Spanish, double standard for language learners

Posted at 11:55 AM ET, 06/16/2010

How does your high school rank? Check the new Newsweek list

Any public high school that gave at least as many AP, IB or Cambridge tests in 2009 as it had seniors graduating that year qualifies for the 2010 Newsweek list. If your high school meets that criteria and you do not find it listed, email me at

By Jay Mathews  |  11:55 AM ET, 06/16/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  13 best high school movies, Jay's latest AP piece, latest Newsweek high school rankings, the Challenge Index, why some don't like the list but Jay does

Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 06/13/2010

The principal who created a wellspring of innovation

Despite the school’s disadvantages, Jackson has produced one of the highest levels of Advanced Placement test participation in the country — top 2 percent. Thirty-seven percent of Wakefield seniors have passing scores on those tests, more than twice the national average. Wakefield has reached its federal achievement targets, unusual for a school with so many impoverished students, but also made itself a national model for imaginative instruction, outdoing even the most affluent public schools.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:00 PM ET, 06/13/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Metro Monday | Tags:  Doris Jackson, Wakefield High School, one of the nation's most creative principals, rare requirement for senior projects, top 2 percent in AP participation

Posted at 09:00 AM ET, 04/04/2010

Unlike many, Escalante believed in teaching, not sorting

From 1982 to 1987 I stalked Jaime Escalante, his students and his colleagues at Garfield High School, a block from the hamburger-burrito stands, body shops and bars of Atlantic Boulevard in East Los Angeles. I was the Los Angeles bureau chief for The Washington Post, allegedly covering the big political, social and business stories of the Western states, but I found it hard to stay away from that troubled high school.

By Jay Mathews  |  09:00 AM ET, 04/04/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Garfield High School, Jaime Escalante, opening AP to all, restricting access to AP, teaching not sorting

Posted at 03:37 PM ET, 08/25/2009

Admissions 101: To Take or Not to Take AP and IB

Over at Admissions 101, Jay Mathews is discussing the answer to a prickly question: The Question: Is it better for college admissions to take an IB or AP class and receive a C or D or take a standard class...

By Washington Post Editors  |  03:37 PM ET, 08/25/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  AP, IB, college admissions

Posted at 11:12 AM ET, 07/07/2009

Admissions 101: Are Low Grades in AP/IB Classes Better than High Grades in Regular Classes?

A few weeks ago, Jay Mathews asked readers a tough question in his Admissions 101 - which is better: an A or B in a regular course or a C in a more challenging course like an AP or IB class? Jay sided with AP, saying that all students interested in tier 1 or tier 2 schools should take at least 2 AP or IB courses. Even if that means a C on a high school transcript, Jay argued, colleges will appreciate a student who is willing to take on a challenge. Reader reactions have been pouring in ever since:

By Sarah Mimms  |  11:12 AM ET, 07/07/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  AP Advanced Placement International Baccalaureate IB, Admissions 101, Jay Mathews

Posted at 10:32 AM ET, 06/24/2009

Jay on the Web: Is AP the Only Way to Challenge Students?

Every year, Jay Mathews compiles The Challenge Index, a ranking of schools based on a simple formula - the number of AP, IB, and other college-level tests given out at any given high school divided by the total number of...

By Sarah Mimms  |  10:32 AM ET, 06/24/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  AP, The Challenge Index

Posted at 03:02 PM ET, 06/23/2009

Admissions 101: A Class Quandry

Jay posted a true quandry in Admissions 101: Is it better for students to get good grades in easy classes, or mediocre grades in tough ones? Jay is specifically talking about AP and IB classes and how top tier schools...

By Washington Post Editors  |  03:02 PM ET, 06/23/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  AP, IB, college admissions

Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 06/12/2009

Shocker! Some Teachers Like AP for All

When I got to work Monday, I was certain I was about to be pummeled by e-mails telling me what an idiotic column I had written that day praising high schools that were trying to get everyone, even struggling students,...

By Washington Post editors  |  06:00 AM ET, 06/12/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  AP Advanced Placement International Baccalaureate IB

Posted at 05:24 PM ET, 06/09/2009

Admissions 101: Should Colleges Ditch the SAT for AP as the Main Admissions Exam?

A little while back in Admissions 101, Jay asked whether the day of the SAT might be numbered: Matt Gray, spokesman for Bryn Mawr College, just alerted me to their new admissions policy that, I think, anticipates a day when...

By Washington Post Editors  |  05:24 PM ET, 06/09/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  AP, SAT, college admissions

Posted at 11:39 AM ET, 05/12/2009

Admissions 101: How qualified are AP teachers?

In Admissions 101, a conversation has been bubbling over the last week about the qualifications of most AP teachers. Patrickmattimore1 thinks teachers are well prepared: The College Board works hard to ensure that high-school teachers are qualified to teach AP...

By Washington Post Editors  |  11:39 AM ET, 05/12/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  AP, teacher qualifications