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Class Struggle: January 31, 2010 - February 6, 2010

Readers question Challenge Index

Q. The downside not discussed is that from 1989 to 2009, the percentage of AP exams earning a 1 (lowest score) has doubled, from 10% to 20%. Over that same period, the mean score declined from just over 3 to 2.89. This tells me a lot of kids are being pushed into a AP classes for which they aren't ready or motivated.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 5, 2010; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Trends  | Tags: Advanced Placement, Challenge Index, Darwin, International Baccalaureate, selective colleges, special education  
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AP failures up, successes too.

Jack Gillum and Greg Toppo of USA Today (bias alert: my wife works there) have two good stories on the growing percentage of failing scores on Advanced Placement tests, from 36.5 percent in 1999 to 41.5 percent last year---and a 48.4 percent failure rate in the southern states.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 4, 2010; 2:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: AP students passing tests increases, Advanced Placement, College Board, Greg Toppos, Jack Gillum, Trevor Packer, USA Today, rising AP failure rates  
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Problems with D.C. teacher evaluation

We disagree over the region’s most daring effort to assess educators honestly, the D.C. schools’ IMPACT program. I think it is a worthy experiment. Barron thinks it needs to do much more than it is designed to do to train teachers in its intricacies and demands.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 3, 2010; 10:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
Categories:  Local Living  | Tags: D.C. evaluation problems, D.C. schools, D.C. teacher evaluations, IMPACT system, Marni Barron, Phoebe Hearst Elementary  
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D.C. evaluation chief responds

We never told Master Educators that they were prohibited from providing additional advice and support to teachers. On the contrary, the position description explicitly indicated that providing professional development would be expected.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 3, 2010; 9:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: IMPACT, Jason Kamras  
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Are we speaking the same language on D.C. school policy?

Some time ago a faithful reader and commenter on this blog, dccitizen1, asked me a good question about the School Without Walls. It was a small issue, but delved into how D.C. schools really work, a favorite topic of mine. Sadly, I forgot to check it out and he had to remind me in November.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 3, 2010; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: D.C. schools, John Davis, Michelle A. Rhee, Richard Trogisch, School Without Walls, dccitizen1, did Rhee lie  
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Rhee: Uncompromising

"I'm going to take a route that has not been tried before," Rhee said. "I'm not going to try to please people so I can stay here a little longer." She is going to do what she thinks has to be done, she said, and take the consequences.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 2, 2010; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (60)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: D.C. resident oppose Rhee, Paying attention to polls would mean less attention to kids and schools.Michelle A. Rhee, Rhee different from all other superintendents, Rhee ignores bad poll results, Rhee won't compromise, tough Rhee  
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Rhee's bad polls: should she go?

Public officials who try to make big changes to solve crises often risk their popularity. That is why favorability ratings for Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama dropped when they tried to revive devastated economies in the first years of their presidencies. That also explains why D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, pushing very hard to raise student achievement in her low-performing district, has lost so much public confidence in a new Washington Post survey.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 1, 2010; 7:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (44)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: D.C. schools, Michelle A. Rhee, Rhee drops in polls, Washington Post survey, anger toward Rhee, blaming leaders for any change, support for improving schools  
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Finding the better high school

Let’s say you live in the District, and have heard that the public high schools are bad. Some are. But on the list you will find one school, Columbia Heights Educational Center, with a typical D.C. student body that is 84 percent low-income students, but a very high Challenge Index rating--third in the region.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 1, 2010; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
Categories:  Metro Monday  | Tags: Challenge Index, Columbia Heights Educational Center, D.C. schools, Fairfax County schools, Loudoun County schools, high school academic ranks, ranking high schools, rating high schools, rating schools by family income  
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