Blog: The Educated Reporter

Jay asked me to slap him around.

Reporters frequently query EWA searching for expert opinions on pushing (I mean, encouraging!) AP classes for all students. I think the New York Times did a good job yesterday of rounding up the prevailing schools of thought.

I think there’s a lot of reporting to be done on Advanced Placement, as its popularity grows so fast. Among the topics to look at: what students are and are not getting from AP classes (high- and low-achievers alike), whether teachers are well-qualified to teach them, how the test does or doesn’t change the college experience (credits, anyone?), and the degree to which schools are driving kids into AP because of academic value or their Newsweek rankings, or both.

I like my colleague Jay Mathews a lot, but he knows I am not a fan of his Challenge Index and what’s been made of it. Not only is it enormously shallow to rank schools by a single metric—how many kids take AP and IB tests—in order to label them the Best High Schools, it also implies that Advanced Placement courses as put forth by the College Board, as well as International Baccalaureate, are the only worthwhile ways to challenge students. I have not reported on this topic enough to offer firsthand counterarguments, but the questions are always forefront in my mind.

When I first started my blog and vowed not to single out reporters for criticism, Jay protested and offered himself up. So here you go, Jay! Happy holidays! And, as always, I look forward to the Mathews Christmas letter.


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