Abbott’s Tarnished Legacy – AP Scores

The Collegeboard has released its annual report on Advanced Placement exams – and they have some good and bad news for New Jersey.  The AP exams (I took a few) are an indicator of college preparation and performance, and if you get a “3” or higher (out of 5), you are eligible for college credit at many universities.

Good News: 72% of New Jersey’s High School Seniors obtained a 3 or better on the exam, the highest passing rate in the nation.  This is a testatement to our public education system and its emphasis upon college prep.

Bad News: “The report put New Jersey near the bottom of the 50 states when measuring “equity and excellence,” meaning the share of minorities achieving high scores.”  This means that the urban school districts performed at a level that the Supreme Court, in its “Abbott” decisions, has tried and clearly failed to prevent.  Despite spending up to $22,000 a student at many of these schools – a massive achievement gap remains.

Solution: The evidence is overwhelming – the Abbott decision has failed in its goal, and the Supreme Court needs to step aside and allow the Legislature and Governor Christie to fix our urban districts.  We need to hold teachers accountable based upon merit, not seniority.  In the short term, we need to expand charter schools and the opportunities they provide.  And most of all, we need to fundamentally change the way we think about urban education, rejecting the view that if we pump lots of money into these districts, all problems will go away.

Sadly, it appears that the Supreme Court is living in an alternate reality and will probably order the Governor to again spend more money that we don’t have.  This is sad news not just for the taxpayers of the state, but also for the students in failing urban schools. We owe it to them to actually fix the problem, not just throw more money at it.

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