Advanced Placement Inequity

More and more kids are taking Advanced Placement tests: the Record reports today that 25.1% of New Jersey’s high school class of 2009 took the tests and 18% of those kids scored 3 or higher. However, “minority participation rates and scores continue to lag behind those of white students.”

Let’s examine that a bit more closely. We took two schools in Mercer County: West Windsor/ Plainsboro North and Trenton Central High. West Windsor Plainsboro has 1567 kids in grades 9-12 and in the school year 2008-2009 1,172 took AP courses. (Some of those kids took more than one AP course, and get counted more than once.) 782 children took the AP tests and 692 scored 3 or higher. Ethnic breakdown? Hard to say. NCLB requires disaggregated data, but requires 40 children at a minimum for a subgroup. West Windsor-Plainsboro North doesn’t qualify in the categories of African-American, Hispanic, or Economically Disadvantaged.

Meanwhile, 9 and a half miles down Route 1 at Trenton Central High, 72 children out of a 9-12 population of 2,356 took AP classes. 58 took the AP tests and 11 scored 3 or higher. Again, we can’t address the ethnic breakdown referred to in the Record piece because there are not enough White kids to count as a subgroup in the NCLB disaggregated data.