Corbett School District – AP for All
National Ranking has played a large part in growing our district’s size and reputation. It has been used to persuade the public, our parents and board members to trust the administration and allow the expansion of our school population, the implementation of non-traditional educational practices; Imaginative Education and the creation and expansion of at least one Charter School in Corbett… and now a new STEM school. ( As of January of 2015 the State of Oregon has revoked the STEM ID – read here. )
Taglines like “Best in the Nation” are used to describe Corbett School District (CSD) but actually the ranking is specific only to our high school and the criteria that gives us the highest ranking is based on the total number of AP tests purchased and taken and not actual test scores or performance. Corbett purchases over 1,000 AP tests ( as of 2013-14) and has a graduating class of around 80 students at that time.
CSD State Ranking?
CSD actually ranks below the state average (as a district) as of the 2012-2013 state report cards. http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=1786.
The CSD school board voted (in August 2014) on policy language to give the district the option NOT to notify parents about their student’s achievement measured against Oregon State standards per HB2220. (CSD does not assign any letter grades K-8 and does not assign D’s or F’s in high school.)
Overall, Oregon ranked 40th for academic achievement in the nation as of 2014 – and CSD is ranked below Oregon’s state average – but we are “Nationally Ranked?” http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2014/01/oregon_ranks_no_40_in_student.html
Newsweek, Washington Post and US News
Until 2011, Newsweek’s National ranking was calculated by the total number of AP tests taken by a high school, divided by the number of graduating seniors. This ranking index had nothing to do with how well our students did on these tests.
2006 – Corbett was ranking at 584th
2007- Corbett ranked 217th
2008 – Corbett ranked 86th
2009 – Corbett ranked 8th
2010 – Corbett ranked 5th
2011 – Not listed at all?
What happened ?
When the index criteria changed at Newsweek to consider more than just the number of tests taken, Corbett School District started advertising the Washington Post’s results and claimed that they chose not to submit their information to Newsweek. The Washington Post now uses Newsweek’s old criteria where we still rank top in the nation based on the number of tests taken divided by the number of graduating seniors. Link here.
National Ranking Criteria
All three magazines weight heavily participation in AP/IB/AICE (college readiness tests) by graduates but have slightly different ranking systems. They all pertain only to high school and are not meant to describe a school district as a whole.
WASHINGTON POST ( 2014: CSD ranks 15th )
The “Challenge Index” takes the total number of college-level tests given at a high school in the previous calendar year divided by the number of graduates. Link here to criteria: http://apps.washingtonpost.com/local/highschoolchallenge/
NEWSWEEK ( 2013: CSD ranks 58th )
We were listed as 5th in the nation in 2010 when the criteria was still based on total tests divided by graduates as with the Washington Post. The new criteria is as follows: Graduation rate (25 percent), college matriculation (registration) rate (25 percent), AP/IB/AICE tests taken per student (25 percent), average SAT/ACT scores (10 percent), average AP/IB/AICE scores (10 percent), and AP courses offered per student (5 percent) Based on the criteria listed online in 2013 by newsweek.com.
US NEWS AND WORLD REPORTS ( 2014: CSD ranks 126th )
A three part methodology. The determining factor being AP/IB test data. in CSD’s case, we easily pass the first 2 criteria and our AP participation rate is 100% with each senior taking on average almost 7 AP tests.) Based on the criteria listed online in 2013 by usnews.com.
Corbett School District’s AP Edge
CSD is an “AP for All” high school.
CSD requires all students (grades 9-12) take AP courses.
CSD requires each student complete 6 AP classes to graduate. (Link here to the district site about this.)
CSD purchased around 1,000 AP tests ( on the taxpayers in 2013-2014 ) for a graduating class of about 80 students. Also we purchase SAT tests and allow students to prep and take these tests during the school day. In other districts this would be done outside of the school day.
CSD students pass less than half of these AP tests with a 3 or better and only a percentage of all these AP tests go for actual college credit.
CSD now requires college admittance, among others, to graduate. This college requirement is another criteria added to the methodology by Newsweek magazine. Read here.
CSD even requires Special Needs kids to take AP classes.
CSD’s current grading policy does not assign D’s or F’s in high school.
CSD assigns no letter grades at all until high school as a district.
CSD is a continuous progress model.
CSD will graduate any student that tries his/her best and has made progress.
CSD attracts academically motivated students who were privately educated or went to primary or middle school elsewhere before coming to CSD.
* The “AP for All” focused high school in Corbett gives high achieving students the opportunity to earn college credits and thrive. Many of these students, from “Phonics Factory” as one example, have become AP scholars and been accepted in top level colleges and universities, like Dartmouth.
Must be registered in College to graduate from high school ? New Graduation Requirement
Like with our AP for All Program ( or SAT tests ) our district will pay for tests for students to apply to be accepted to college. Those not planning on college will apply with our local community college, Mt. Hood CC. ALL HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES are accepted into the MHCC program – so while learning to fill out a college application could easily be taught in a class as part of the curriculum, we are taking things a step further in actually admitting our high school students, whether they plan to attend college, or not. More here on this discussion on the Corbett Oregon web site Forum.
How it all started in CSD
” Making AP a mandatory program was a calculated move ” – Randy Trani ( From a College Board article where the CSD Superintendent made this statement in 2010. ) The past superintendent is now the Director of the Charter School in Corbett. High School Charter and District students shared classrooms and teachers in a single high school in Corbett Oregon until the 2014/2015 school year.
We have doubled our school district population in the last few years . What was once a small community school in Corbett is now something very different and it has divided our close knit community. Over half of the students in our district are transported in and out of Corbett each day, because they do not live here. Select here for an op-ed that was focused on Corbett’s Ap for All program.
National Ranking Articles and Opinions
“Rank Foolishness” | NASSP Web Site – (National Assoc. of secondary school principals)
“…If the public is going to naturally conclude that the rankings indicate that schools are better and schools are going to use the rankings to perpetuate the same inaccuracy then WPost should introduce into the index a calculation of how well students do on the exams.”
” What is the Value of AP Courses and Tests? ” | Diane Ravitch | May 2013
” Actually we can also all thank Jay Matthew’s rating game in mass publications for an additional incentive to spark kids to take too many AP courses and exams, not for the intrinsic love of a subject, but only to be put on the right pile of applicants to the select colleges they seek to enter….
We can also thank the School districts who want to raise real estate values by advertising how many AP courses they offer, and how high they are on Matthews’ rankings. ”
“AP Classes are a Scam” | John Tierney | The Atlantic | Oct 2012
” The College Board earns over half of all its revenues from the courses — and, in an uncertain environment, students keep being suckered…. But it shouldn’t be the customer’s responsibility to stop a scam. The customer buys into it because the con artist is so skillful and the world is so uncertain. The only way to stop the College Boards of the world is to expose them. Tell people to be wary.”
“Many critics lay the blame on the College Board itself, a huge “non-profit” organization that operates like a big business. The College Board earns over half of all its revenues from its Advanced Placement program — more than all its other revenue streams (SATs, SAT subject tests, PSATs) combined.”
Challenging Jay’s Challenge Index | By Valerie Strauss | The Washington Post
” Here’s the rub: There are lots of kids who wouldn’t, and don’t, but are pushed anyway because schools and districts have become fixated on Jay’s list….
Remember that the index considers the number of college level tests that are taken — not the actual courses, nor the score that the students receive.
Every student in a school could flunk — which would more likely indicate a comprehension issue than a mass case of test anxiety — but that institution could still do very well on Jay’s index because it supposedly challenged the students with a college-level class. It may have only served to confuse the kid. ”
“A warning to college profs from a high school teacher”
From an award-winning high school teacher who just retired, Kenneth Bernstein, warns college professors what they are up against. From a February 2013 article: read here. ” I mentioned that at least half my students were in AP classes. The explosive growth of these classes, driven in part by high school rankings like the yearly Challenge Index created by Jay Mathews of The Washington Post, is also responsible for some of the problems you will encounter with students entering your institutions.”
“A lesson in Advanced mis-Placement”
One evaluation posted to the Washington Post Challenge Index in 2011 follows:
1. When the public (even educators themselves) view the Challenge Index rankings they naturally associate a higher rank with being a “Better” school – which the public generally conclude means that students perform better and learn more at those schools. This is natural, since that is what the public REALLY wants to know. Furthermore, ranking schools intentionally perpetuate this inaccuracy for their own benefit (I work at the highest ranking school in my state, and I’m part of the PR mechanism that perpetuates the inaccuracy – it’s part of my job.)
2. In my state there has been a big push to have students take the AP Exams, regardless of whether the students are actually prepared to do so. The State requires that every AP students take the exam, and the State even pays for the exam for each student. This obviously inflates the indexes for schools in my state. In my own school I have seen large numbers of students place their heads on their desk and go to sleep within the first 15 minutes of their recently-administered AP exams – yet their “performance” is improving my school’s Challenge ranking, and ultimately our school’s statewide prestige as an educational icon.
3. For years my school has been highly ranked in the US News, and now WPost Challenge rankings. There is a strong effort in the school to offer enroll as many students as possible in AP classes – not only because it is good for the students, but it is good for our rankings. Unfortunately many students are mis-placed in AP classes, and teachers are forced to water-down the curriculum for fear of having too many failing grades and suffering the ire of administrators. This is hardly what the public believes when they see our rankings.
Although I don’t generally advocate for the “tail wagging the dog,” this is a case where it is warranted.
If the public is going to naturally conclude that the Challenge rankings indicate that schools are better (which WILL be the case, no matter how many disclaimers WPost puts on their reports) and schools are going to use the rankings to perpetuate the same inaccuracy (which WILL be the case, in our school and probably every other school on the list), WPost should introduce into the index a calculation of how well students do on the exams.There are many reasonable options for doing so, while still maintaining the “flavor” of the Challenge Index. ( Link to this here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/alternatives-to-the-challenge-index/2011/05/12/AF3PfM7G_allComments.html?ctab=all_&#comments ). .
More from this article by Diane Ravitch |May 16, 2013 at 12:35 pm
“Actually we can also all thank Jay Matthew’s rating game in mass publications for an additional incentive to spark kids to take too many AP courses and exams, not for the intrinsic love of a subject, but only to be put on the right pile of applicants to the select colleges they seek to enter.
We can also thank the School districts who want to raise real estate values by advertising how many AP courses they offer, and how high they are on Matthews’ rankings.
I personally know of two brave high schools who bucked that trend: Fieldston, a private school, and Scarsdale HS which, as far as I know, is the only public HS to do so. For years while teaching at Scarsdale I tried to get my students to realize the choice to take an AP course or not should be based on the intrinsic love of or aptitude for a subject, not the hoped for results of taking as many exams as possible. The data showed how colleges were giving less and less actual advanced placement credit, and that the sheer numbers of over tested applicants made competition even harder. Unfortunately, my plea fell on deaf ears, out shouted by nervous parents and guidance counselors.
Finally enough teachers felt that way that the school pushed to drop most AP courses and eventually I believe all AP designation. Regardless of that decision, students (pressured by parents) still opt for advanced courses that prepare them for those same AP tests even if no AP course is offered.
This testing craze has existed for decades…. When will we ever learn?”