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Students Scores on AP Exams Increased Under Axed Program

The Milford School Committee reviewed an analysis by school officials Thursday that showed passing scores on AP exams in math, science and English improved while the high school participated in the Massachusetts Math and Science Initiative.

Did Milford students gain something from the school system participating in the Massachusetts Math and Science Initiative?

According to an analysis provided by school officials, students earned higher scores on Advanced Placement exams, and more students earned passing scores, which enables them to earn college credit.

According to Superintendent Robert Tremblay:

• The number of students earning the top scores on the AP exam – either a 4 or a 5 – increased from 74 to 94 on exams in math, science and English.

• The number of students earning a passing score on the AP exam – a 3 or better – increased from 41 to 83 in math.

• Milford High School had a 50 percent increase in low-income students taking AP exams in math, science and English.

• The number of minority race or ethnicity students taking AP exams doubled.

"Milford High School was on track, and increasing the rigor of its AP program," Tremblay said.

The math and science initiative, known by the acronym MMSI, partnered with Milford Schools for the 2011-12 school year. The program ended this summer, after Milford High School faculty voted to terminate the contract.

The Milford School Committee had invited leadership of the Milford Teachers Association to attend its Thursday night meeting, to discuss the vote to end the program, and the teachers' reasoning, but no teachers attended.

Several School Committee members said they were frustrated and disappointed at the lack of communication between the teachers and district.

"We gave them an opportunity to come here and sit and talk with us, and not one person showed up," said Committee member Michael Walsh.

Teachers have not publicly explained their rationale for ending the initiative. By agreement, they had the right to end it. The vote to do so was 68 to 14, according to a letter sent to the superintendent following the decision.

On Thursday, Tremblay said teachers in meetings before the vote had expressed concern about how aggressive MMSI was in recruiting students to AP classes, "that students were being pushed into AP classes to meet MMSI's enrollment demands, and not because it was the educationally sound thing to do."

School Committee members, referring to the program score statistics, refuted that, saying it clearly provided an educational benefit for enrolled students.

In total, Milford High School had more than 100 more passing scores on AP exams between 2011 and 2012, Tremblay said. Between 2010 and 2012, passing scores were up 197 percent.

Said School Committee member Scott Harrison: "I don't want to minimize that big of an increase. Very clearly, this program was helping."

Little Engine That Could October 22, 2012 at 02:58 AM
No Mary, that's not the argument that is being made. Any intelligent person who has taken a basic mathematics class (and especially a basic stats class) can see that by looking simply at numbers and not percentages, you don't get the whole picture. As we can also see from College Board data, we saw an increase in minority & low-income students who took AP classes and got the exposure to a more rigorous course and higher expectations than they would normally be exposed to. However, if you look at the AP math scores that saw an increase in qualifying scores, from 41 to 83, you might initially think that it is an impressive jump (over 100% increase... wow!). However, when you take into account that the new stats class had something like 80 students taking the course, the actual percentage increase in qualifying scores based on how many students took an AP math class increases by much less than 100%. My point is that the numbers presented to the school committee were presented in a way that inaccurately represents the true gains made by MMSI.
Mary MacDonald October 22, 2012 at 03:03 AM
But you are saying that 53 percent of the students receiving a qualifying score in 2012, as opposed to 57 percent the prior year, is evidence of "an overall drop in achievement." What I'm arguing - is that 66 more scores qualified than did the previous years, that's 66 more scores to earn college credits for whoever earned them. You see it as half-empty; I guess I see the 66 as a half-full argument.
Little Engine That Could October 22, 2012 at 03:08 AM
The college board has a great website to find out if a college will accept the credit from an AP exam. http://collegesearch.collegeboard.com/apcreditpolicy/index.jsp It definitely depends on the college, but many prestigious institutions typically do not accept AP credit unless the score is a 4 or a 5. In many cases, if a student is planning to major in a field where they took an AP exam, the college will not accept AP credit as college credit, but instead will only allow that student to place into a higher level intro class. For example, if a student took AP Biology and scored a 4 or 5 and entered college as a Biology major, the college may allow them to skip the basic intro Bio class and enter a higher level class instead. However, as stated above, it all depends on the individual college, so if students wish to skip some classes due to qualifying AP exam scores, they should be sure to apply to colleges who will allow them to do so.
Little Engine That Could October 22, 2012 at 10:28 PM
No Mary, you see it incorrectly when it comes to statistics. That's what I'm saying. Maybe you should drop into some of the AP stats classes at the high school. I hear they are doing some great things up there.
Mary MacDonald October 22, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Or, better yet, maybe I should stop arguing online with the Little Engine that Could. Have a good night!

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