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Richmond County school board upset about low AP scores

Friday, May 2, 2014 9:31 PM
Last updated Saturday, May 3, 2014 6:07 AM
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Richmond County Board of Education members and the superintendent’s staff clashed over low Advanced Placement exam scores during their Friday retreat as officials grappled over how to improve flagging test results.

Vice Chairwoman Helen Minchew opened discussion on the matter, saying the low AP exam scores “needed to be addressed” before next year’s test period.

“We have incredibly low percentages of students able to pass these tests,” she said. “Why are so many students not passing the final exam and getting college credit? We pay to give students the opportunity to take these AP tests. We need to make sure students are prepared for taking the exams at the end of the year. They need to be more serious about it.”

Only 19 percent of the 1,149 Richmond County AP students were able to score the needed 3 or higher to pass their AP final exam during the 2012-13 school year. In comparison, 55.4 percent of the 142,010 Georgia AP students made passing scores.

To gain full college credit for the AP course, students must pass the final exam. AP exam pass rates were lower than the state average for a majority of public and magnet schools in Richmond County.

Superintendent Frank Roberson said steps were being taken to increase monitoring and further audit schools giving AP exams.

“They were procedures for teaching AP courses that were not in place at all the schools,” he said. “All students were being taught to the AP standard, but it’s obvious more work must be done. We are going to monitor and closely audit the class practices of AP teachers.”

Roberson said his office was considering additional standards to make sure students were fully prepared to take the exam at the end of each year.

“We could take extra steps to make sure our students are qualified to sit in on AP exams,” Roberson said. “Other schools do it that way.”

Some board members were not convinced their concerns over the low scores were being taken seriously.

Board member Jack Padgett said a general lack of test preparation contributed to the low scores, and students that seemed prepared to take the AP exams might not have had
the training necessary to gain a passing score.

“Many of the students that failed the AP exams had A averages in their classes, as I understand it,” Padgett said. “That should show you something’s wrong with how students are prepared for the exam. It’s something to keep in mind going forward.”

Board member Frank Dolan said AP teachers and school administrators were not “properly doing their job” to improve scores.

“Someone is not doing their job here. Something’s wrong,” Dolan said. “Tell me who. We need to solve this problem. In the private sector, this sort of thing would not fly. We talk on and on about how we’re trying to improve these things, but we never see any change.”

Chairwoman Venus Cain said immediate action was needed to improve scores, and that school officials should better communicate their needs to board members.

“We’re frustrated. We’re being told that things are being improved, and that great things are happening,” Cain said. “But when the numbers come out, they are far different than what we have been told. We cannot continue on this way. We have to all take responsibility.”

Members of the superintendent’s office said they were trying to work with schools to improve scores but felt overloaded
as the district’s workforce continued to dwindle.

“We’re stretched thin. We need to address it,” said Missoura Ashe, the assistant superintendent for elementary schools. “When we have 22 schools to cover, it’s hard to be involved in all of them. But we do what we can. I personally feel stretched. It’s hard for me personally.”

Board members agreed to continue to discuss efforts to improve AP exam scores at a later date.

IN OTHER BUSINESS

• The board considered changing attendance zones in order to allow military families living outside Fort Gordon to attend Freedom Park School instead of overloaded schools such as Langford Middle School and Sue Reynolds Elementary School.

• The board received an overview on the ongoing “rightsizing” project.

• The board reviewed its Board Ethics and Rules of Courtesy Standards.

Comments (26) Add comment
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WarrenvilleRepublican
161
Points
WarrenvilleRepublican 05/02/14 - 09:05 pm
12
2
36.4% Below STATE Average

The best of the best. The kids with 4.0 GPA's pass AP exams only 19% of the time!?! This is shocking but what makes it even worse, when compared to the same segment of students for the entire state, Richmond County students lag behind by 36.4%. That's embarrassing. If I had a child that is excelling in class and can't pass an exam I am going to demand answers of the teacher. I sure I will not like the answers specially
when RCBOE Asst. Superintendent says, “When we have 22 schools to cover, it’s hard to be involved in all of them. But we do what we can. I personally feel stretched. It’s hard for me personally.”

AP students aren't kids who don't care. AP students are the students who excel. I whole heartily believe that teachers can't be expected to reach every kid, but when teachers fail the best of the best at an 81% rate, someone needs to step up and lead instead of passing the blame!

corgimom
38340
Points
corgimom 05/03/14 - 12:15 am
14
2
It is easy to get an A in a

It is easy to get an A in a class when class, school, and district standards are low, in order to raise graduation rates. But that's when it gets revealed, when a national test is given.

This was predicted by many of us on this site.

When an ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT says that he is "stretched" and is "hard to be involved in all of them"- well, then, who IS supposed to be involved with them? Isn't that THEIR JOB, or are they stretched by having to cover for Robison, who is unable to perform the full job of superintendent? Because that was predicted, too.

Richmond County schools are abysmal and getting worse by the year. And instead of the RCBOE DOING THEIR JOB and running the schools, they waste their time going to meetings to discuss how to improve Augusta's image.

raul
5729
Points
raul 05/03/14 - 04:35 am
9
1
@Corgimom. Hit the nail on

@Corgimom. Hit the nail on the head.

Riverman1
93540
Points
Riverman1 05/03/14 - 05:35 am
8
2
The Water Is Wide

I believe everyone is trying hard to improve the school system that has a tough battle educating kids coming from poor, less educated families. Maybe it’s time to deemphasize this AP instruction. Use the resources to upgrade the basic education they are receiving and tests of all kinds will eventually improve. The emphasis seems to be placed on how to make the kids pass the test instead of addressing the generally poor educational experience that leads to the low scores.

For those students who want to take AP classes use the state's online instruction courses for that. That saves money and provides a controlled, standardized program for all students over the state.

My suggestions remain the same over the years and I’m happy to see some of them have been implemented. Increase tech school education, maintain a strong mentor program and coordinate public and church afterschool study centers. In many cases neighborhood schools can also be utilized to a greater degree after normal school hours as study centers. The water is wide.

Pops
14344
Points
Pops 05/03/14 - 05:42 am
6
1
avidreader
3558
Points
avidreader 05/03/14 - 06:59 am
7
1
So Much To Say!

There is so much to say and so little space in this box. I will say that many AP teachers deal with apathy among their students, but if the teacher recommends that a student be removed from the course, administration will insist that the child is better off in the course than not, even if it's unlikely that the child will succeed. Apathetic students can shift the entire stability of a classroom that is supposed to require intense motivation and diligence.

FTE (federal) dollars are also an issue. An AP class must maintain a minimum student count or the dollars quit flowing in.

And yes, there are some teachers who are not in tune with the curriculum due to budgetary problems with offering proper training. AP standards are tough and proper training is a must for consistent success.

The question that puzzles me the most is the quarterly grades. If an apathetic child is not carrying the load for AP standards, how does an A or B end up on the report card? Rigor should dictate the grade, even if the grade is poor. But this is not the way it goes. Parents and administrators will blame the teacher. It's a vicious cycle of who's to blame.

There definitely is a problem with our entire system. The ENTITLEMENT mindset has drifted deeply into the academic ring, and the concepts of productivity and accountability are waning with each passing year. Many children do not understand failure in the classroom; nor does the parent(s). This includes AP courses, and many teachers who do hold students accountable are being chastised, even when the teacher remains in close contact with parents and administrators.

And, of course, there are some crappy teachers out there too.

seenitB4
97283
Points
seenitB4 05/03/14 - 07:23 am
7
2
Atlanta cheating scandal

Remember that?

We can't undo years & years of neglect....something is missing & we all know it. This article is the very reason thousands left Richmond county....IMO corgi & river are both right about this problem....especially this... address the generally poor educational experience that leads to the low scores....HOME LIFE!

ymnbde
10662
Points
ymnbde 05/03/14 - 07:33 am
9
2
this is too important to allow failure

and they've had program after program
expert after expert and more and more money and they still fail
they still fail... while private schools succeed
school choice is the only way...
Davidson (basically a private school) has behavior standards
and you WILL be kicked out of Davidson if you fail to meet those standards
so the remaining students aren't hindered by disruptive behavior
same for Augusta Prep and Augusta Christian
simply give the parent a voucher to be spent at the school of choice
Macon is the perfect example... Macon has several private schools that compete for students... so the success of students comes first
not the demands of unions... Savannah also
to send a child to most public schools amounts to child abuse
and the racial disparity of the pass rate for the AP exams meets Holder's and O's measure of racism... (it meets everyone's)
these people don't know what the problem is
because the problem is these people

deestafford
31784
Points
deestafford 05/03/14 - 07:35 am
3
1
cogi and avidreader are right on target...

cogi and avidreader are right on target. Maybe the school board should put them in charge of fixing the problem.

There are only three parts to this problem--what comes in; what happens in between; and what comes out the end. Are the right students selected for AP classes? Are they taught the right things? Are the teachers capable? Is the final exam accurate? Answer these and you will find the solution.

It's a shame the entire school board should be involved in this. What I mean is the principals should be capable of fixing the situation in their schools. That would include kicking out those who don't DESERVE to be there. AP classes should be a privilege not an entitlement and if they ain't cuttin' the mustard--back to regular classes.

Once again, the federal dollar bangle seems to be driving the train in lowering the quality of who occupies the classroom seats.

edcushman
7930
Points
edcushman 05/03/14 - 07:40 am
9
2
"Richmond County schools are
Unpublished

"Richmond County schools are abysmal and getting worse by the year."
This mess was created by the Great Society, liberals, democrats, black leaders and the department of ed.

deestafford
31784
Points
deestafford 05/03/14 - 07:43 am
6
1
ymnbde, You are so right...

ymnbde, You are so right! Give the parents vouchers and let the schools compete for those dollars. The free market works every time it is tried unfettered.

edcushman
7930
Points
edcushman 05/03/14 - 07:44 am
8
2
"Once again, the federal
Unpublished

"Once again, the federal dollar bangle seems to be driving the train in lowering the quality of who occupies the classroom seats."
Yet the democrats/liberals want to spend more money, that is their answer to everything.

countyman
21630
Points
countyman 05/03/14 - 07:54 am
2
8
The RCBOE needs to work on

The RCBOE needs to work on improving the schools and the local image.. Please stop letting the people who don't even live in the county generalize the entire system... They need to do a better job of allowing only a certain percentage of students into the AP program or don't let everybody take the exam... The percentage of seniors passing the AP exam is right on par with the national rate and state.. Why is somebody from Aiken County calling out the RCBOE? Have they seen the scores of certain schools in Aiken?

Five important facts...

1. The entire US started using the same graduation in 2011/2012 and Richmond County has increased faster than many surrounding counties..

2. The percentage of Georgia seniors passing the AP is 21.3%, 20.1% nationally, and 21% in Richmond County...

3. The majority of kids in the AP program don't have 4.0 GPA'S...

4. All of the schools in RC aren't abysmal or getting worse every year.. Monte Sano elementary(non magnet) just scored an 80.2 on the most recent CCRPI score...

5. The sky is not falling in Richmond County every single day..

seenitB4
97283
Points
seenitB4 05/03/14 - 08:01 am
6
2
ctyman...where are they hearing this??

"“We’re frustrated. We’re being told that things are being improved, and that great things are happening,” Cain said. “But when the numbers come out, they are far different than what we have been told. We cannot continue on this way. We have to all take responsibility.”

showboat
367
Points
showboat 05/03/14 - 09:05 am
0
0
The problems are not all the
Unpublished

The problems are not all the teachers what about the students and parents, you have got to help teacher with your on child. The school system is doing the best they can with some of these students, they are not being taught at home. Parents go in the front office and act like fools in front of other students, i saw this yesterday a school, i was really shock at the way this parent was acting , you people have never been in a classroom with some of these thugs. So don't blame all of this mess on the school system. IT ALL START AT HOME!!!!!!!!!!

Riverman1
93540
Points
Riverman1 05/03/14 - 09:10 am
3
1
Don't Ignore Bad Results

You can either try to fix matters or ignore them and say things are fine. I, also, don't believe in constant harping about how bad things are without offering suggestions.

dichotomy
37420
Points
dichotomy 05/03/14 - 09:45 am
9
1
Let's see.....hmmmmmm. We

Let's see.....hmmmmmm.

We have a school board that INTENTIONALLY, for questionable reasons, retained a superintendent for years who was incapable of performing his duties.

We have a school board who, every time they set out to hire a superintendent, insists that RC must have a black superintendent. And they also have allowed the entire system to deteriorate into race based hiring, promotions and assignments. Which is why qualified teachers avoid our system like the plague. They do and it shows.

We have a school board that oversees a system of ZERO discipline and ZERO decisive punishment in our schools.

We have MANY teachers in the system who are totally incompetent and who act and speak just like those poor students from underprivileged neighborhoods. And yet the school board has failed to implement ANY meaningful system for teacher evaluations because they are afraid of who it would show needs to be fired and replaced with competent teachers.

The school board has allowed the standards to be lowered so that more students can be given a PASS and get a diploma even though EVERY comparison to national statistics shows that we don't just have a bad school system but instead have a pitifully bad school system.

And now our school board gets all indignant and demands answers for the decisions THEY have made and policies they have implemented or supported with a wink and a nod.

And will they ever try to address the REAL problems they have created with their hiring, promotion, assignment, and discipline policies? I think not. They either don't have a clue, or they don't have the courage to face the real problems. They will eventually blame it on money and tell us a tax increase will fix everything. Actually fixing the school system would require them to admit things that are not politically correct in this county and would require some massive personnel changes and a REAL classroom discipline policy.

Riverman1
93540
Points
Riverman1 05/03/14 - 10:10 am
4
1
Ah, Here Is The Truth

The enclosed link explains matters well. Please read it. Now let’s calmly admit the reality. The Richmond County school system is almost ¾ nonwhite students. In Georgia white students passed AP courses at a rate of 62.4%. Blacks passed at a rate of 13.3%. Note Richmond County scored as a whole 19%. But get this, Georgia had the third highest pass rate for black students in the nation. Considering the demographics of Richmond County it actually does a superior job of AP preparation it appears.
http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2014/feb/23/georgia-broadens-acc...

ironpurps
212
Points
ironpurps 05/03/14 - 10:39 am
4
1
Real Solutions

Solutions. 1. Part of the problem is that in most high school classes, including AP classes, give grades on what a student DOES and not what a student KNOWS. Stop giving grades for turning in work but for mastering standards. 2. Find the teachers who ARE successful and let them teach local AP teachers. 3. There is absolutely NO leadership downtown in regards to having a focal point person to handle AP training, information, etc. Create an AP czar to handle all things AP 4. Create an AP summit. Have AP teachers paid to attend summer sessions, both local and national training. 5. Although getting a 3 on the exam is a goal, it is not the ONLY goal. Research shows that students who even take AP classes are more desirable for colleges and universities. Added rigor is a good thing.

bentman
466
Points
bentman 05/03/14 - 10:46 am
2
4
Ever heard of a sow"s ear?

Ever heard of a sow"s ear?

jbenny2010
272
Points
jbenny2010 05/03/14 - 11:08 am
6
2
Here's the real problem

When I was a student in public school in the 70's, you truly had a bell curve representation of students. Smarter students were able to push the slower students and there was a level of competition. Once the magnet schools opened in the 80's, there was a brain drain of sorts where the average student became the head of the class. As the culture changed and demographics changed, the bottom of the class was now the standard.

Now add AP classes to the mix. The scores are low because students are placed in those classes to fulfill grant requirements. However, those students are not able to grasp the material nor do they have the drive to succeed that high achieving students usually have. I know this because I was asked to teach an AP class. I gave a list of suggested students that I felt would be challenged by the class, and be successful at it as well. When I got my class roll, I realized that none of my suggestions were followed, and that none of the students listed would be able to complete the course. I taught them to the best of my ability, but students who are having a tough time with regular subjects are not prepared for college level work.

The best way to deal with this is to: 1) Use data to determine which students are capable of handling AP level classes; 2) Students should understand that AP classes are college level classes and that they can't mess around and expect to catch up later; 3) Administrators should be held accountable for placing students in the correct AP classes that meet the needs of the student, not padding their statistics (in other words, you say you have an AP academy because you have 50 students, but only 15% of them have the ability to do the work); 4) Administrators need to stop pressuring their teachers into giving grades that are not a reflection of the actual product of the student's efforts, again with the intent of padding statistics; 5) Finally, make sure that the teachers have adequate time to help the students prepare for the exam. That's my two cents from the trenches.

And lest you think I'm being racist, I am an African-American who was educated in Richmond County and graduated from Josey.

Little Lamb
48972
Points
Little Lamb 05/03/14 - 11:10 am
4
1
Wrong Emphasis

RCBOE emphasis is wrong regarding what the goal of AP classes is. Read this sentence from the story up above:

“Why are so many students not passing the final exam and getting college credit?” asked school board trustee Helen Minchew.

You see, the goal the trustees want to see is college credit. That is wrong. They should take AP classes for the value of the education itself and not worry about college credit. Ben Franklin said to mind the pennies and the dollars take care of themselves. Little Lamb said to read your books, do your homework, pay attention in class and college credit will take care of itself.

showboat
367
Points
showboat 05/03/14 - 11:28 am
0
0
Don't let schools put
Unpublished

Don't let schools put students in AP classes from other schools just to play sports!!!!

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 05/03/14 - 12:00 pm
0
0
You can date
Unpublished

your educational problems back to lbj, the civil rights act of 1964, the voting rights act of 1965 and affirmative action. The bar has been set so low that a rabbit can get a PHD.

allhans
24865
Points
allhans 05/03/14 - 12:10 pm
2
1
Begin with checking the

Begin with checking the grades of the 55 % who made "passing grades". Smells.

Gage Creed
19395
Points
Gage Creed 05/03/14 - 01:08 pm
3
0
Facts are pesky things..

https://www.gadoe.org/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Curriculum-a...

"The RCBOE needs to work on improving the schools and the local image.. Please stop letting the people who don't even live in the county generalize the entire system... They need to do a better job of allowing only a certain percentage of students into the AP program or don't let everybody take the exam... The percentage of seniors passing the AP exam is right on par with the national rate and state.. Why is somebody from Aiken County calling out the RCBOE? Have they seen the scores of certain schools in Aiken?"

The paragraph above is pathetic in so many ways... Freedom of Speech... Ever hear of it? What's even worse is this comes from one who does not claim to own Real Property in said county. Next, the same lame paragraph proposes to skew the results by false loading the testing (well at least that's something the poster knows intimately) Again with the lame but Aiken County did it too... remember you can only talk about YOUR county!!! What a load of TRIPE...

oldredneckman96
5115
Points
oldredneckman96 05/03/14 - 04:19 pm
0
0
Future criminals
Unpublished

We have to separate the wheat from the chafe. We need people to pick up trash and we need to have professionals. Letting future criminals hold back the rest of society just so we can say we care about everyone is really saying we do not care about the ones we need so society to survive. Being expelled from school will probably be the least “bad” thing to happen to these kids and the best thing we can do for those who want to learn.

The Mick
832
Points
The Mick 05/03/14 - 05:40 pm
2
0
Our government mismanages

Our government mismanages everything it is involved with. Why does everyone expect them to do different in education. There are educators who care, so I don't want to paint them as all bad. BUT, think of every government employee you deal with. They don't care. Government jobs are hard to lose. So just keep promoting the problem to the next grade and get that state pension. Then let's wonder why there are so many young men going to prison? Hmmm, government educated yet can hardly read and have no marketable skills. It is a disgusting cycle. And until all political parties and types of people want to start asking tough questions and acknowledging tough issues, instead of rallying behind their slogan of choice, it never will!

Pops
14344
Points
Pops 05/03/14 - 05:45 pm
4
0
Bold actions by the elected officials

"Board members agreed to continue to discuss efforts to improve AP exam scores at a later date."

More discussion......to bad a few of them can't discuss anything in English.....

Young Fred
20938
Points
Young Fred 05/03/14 - 09:02 pm
3
0
Is anyone really surprised?

It's the same all over the nation when it comes to inter-city schools run by Libs!!! Nothing ever changes because everyone is shooting for grants instead of shooting for more intelligent students.

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