Let’s be Honest
Corbett is a good school, but basing our reputation on a survey put out by NewsWeek is damaging our chances of becoming a Great school. When parents go before the School Board to let them know that the kids aren’t getting the education they need, the parents leave frustrated. They are told we are producing a better product than other schools, and at a lower cost. But are we really?
Corbett bases its 5th in the Nation ranking on a Newsweek article put out every May. The author takes the overall number of AP tests taken, and divides it by the number of graduating Seniors for the year. The idea behind the ranking was that by the time a Senior graduated from High School they would have one test done to help ease them into their college experience.
AP classes in Corbett are mandatory, and they start with Freshman year. This year the District is expecting Corbett High and Corbett Charter to take approximately 965 tests, with a combined graduating class of around 50 Seniors. The tests do not have to be passed, they just have to be taken, and with a top score of 5 possible, 75% of the tests given last year received 1’s or 2’s. These do not qualify for transfer to a college for credit, and in addition, a lot of colleges will not accept the 3’s either, even though these are considered passing tests.
Because Corbett purchases so many tests, the cost per test is $65. In 2009 there were 508 tests given, at a cost of $33,020. In 2010, 748 tests were taken at a cost of $48,620 and with 75% of those going to grades of one or two, an expense of $36,465 with no possible college transfer. That means that only 187 of the tests were 3, 4 or 5 in ranking, and Corbett spent an average of $260 per passing test. This year Corbett expects to take 965 tests, with a cost of $62,725. If the trend continues with passing rates, over $47,000 will be spent on non-passing tests.
During the same time Corbett has been paying for these tests we have laid off custodians, maintenance personnel, office assistants and announced that we need to cut back days at school to cover budget shortfalls.
Corbett School District pays for the test, and this makes sense if the goal it to get tests taken, because as a parent I would demand my child discuss with me the expected grade before paying. As a parent who attends school board meetings I hear from the Board that we are not elitist and that is why we pay for the tests, but in today’s hard economic times, can we afford what amounts to the cost of a teacher, or a couple of custodians? I hear from the Superintendent that the 1’s and 2’s are just as valuable as the higher scores, but are they?
The value is in the classroom experience, in the learning provided by the greater demands placed on the students, not in the tests. (And tests can be taken without the students taking the class.) The tests allow the District to claim their national ranking, and it does bring in students to the Charter, but as long as that is how we are basing our student’s education, things will not change. Past Superintendent Robert Dunton began the AP classes and it has been beneficial to lots of Corbett students, but the house of cards built upon the AP test ranking needs to be blown down.
CSD School Board Member and Parent of two CSD students