Texas hopes to replicate Jaime Escalante's resounding success. More and more schools are offering more and more AP courses to more and more students. But Texas school officials do not like the results. At least they do not like the statistics. More and more students are failing.
But the latest data show Texas high school students fail more than half of the college-level exams, and their performance trails national averages.
School officials wring their hands and wonder what could be going wrong. Not only the students who are expected to fail are failing. Surprise, students from elite schools, the top tier, are failing in increasing numbers, too.
But high failure rates from some of the Dallas area's elite campuses raise questions about whether our most advantaged high school students are prepared for college work.
What's the problem?
For one, you can't just “helicopter-drop” AP courses into a school and expect instant education reform.
Because, two, the teachers may not be qualified to teach AP courses.
So, three, the teachers tend to fail to cover the material and properly prepare the students.
Besides, four, too many students enroll without adequate academic foundation for the courses.
The problem with looking to a movie for direction in education reform is that Garfield High's AP calculus program was just a bit little different than the movie version. Mr. Escalante spent years preparing the students, requiring them to take summer courses and come to school from 7:00 am- noon on Saturdays.
Even Garfield High did not sustain their own success. Please read that link. I may spend several posts discussing how very emblematic Mr. Escalante's experience is in terms of reform obstructionism, professional jealousy, and society's lack of respect for teachers.