Louisville, why aren’t you playing ball?

School system shuns program that increases Advanced Placement course performance

One of the most exciting school reform efforts in our state is the ‘AdvanceKentucky’ program to place more, higher quality Advanced Placement (AP) courses in our public high schools.

But, a new list of the schools that will participate in this highly effective program in the coming school year highlights a notable problem – even after three expansions in participating schools, Louisville doesn’t have a single high school entered in the AdvanceKentucky ‘league.’

I already discussed some of the features of AdvanceKentucky here and here.

AdvanceKentucky runs a great ‘ballgame.’ Briefly, the program provides financial and other assistance to high schools to train teachers to instruct AP courses. The program also provides additional incentives with fiscal awards to both teachers and students who do well on the AP tests.

The ‘stats’ for the first 12 AdvanceKentucky high schools were released late last summer. They are impressive.

The number of tests passed with a score of 3 or higher – the score where the course work is generally accepted by most colleges – jumped 79 percent in the AdvanceKentucky schools. That’s 14 times the growth rate posted across the nation. Talk about a grand slam!

Furthermore, AdvanceKentucky schools posted a notable improvement in AP performance for students in the free and reduced cost lunch program, which is the usual indicator of poverty in education studies. You can read more about the success of this program in the blog items I mentioned earlier.

With all that great performance, you would think high schools across the commonwealth would be lining up to join AdvanceKentucky’s program. That is happening in many areas. The original 12-school group has now swelled dramatically to a total of 44 high schools that will participate next year.

But, there is a really big problem.

Even after the third round of AdvanceKentucky expansion, not one high school in Kentucky’s largest school district, the Jefferson County Public School District, wants to play. Not one!

Why?

We know that Louisville’s powerful teachers union, the Jefferson County Teachers Association (JCTA), doesn’t like merit pay, where teachers who perform better in more demanding assignments get more money. AdvanceKentucky does have those bonuses for teachers whose students do well on the AP exams, which is a merit-based approach.

Can it be that the JCTA is more interested in maintaining one-size-must-fit-all teacher mediocrity rather than advancing the education of students – and the state of the art of the teaching profession, as well?

Maybe something else beside the JCTA is at fault, but we do know that Jefferson County already had three chances to get on board with AdvanceKentucky. It failed to apply every time.

That looks like an educational strikeout.

You can learn more about AdvanceKentucky in their web site.

Maybe some folks in Louisville should check it out and start playing ball. Because not playing in AdvanceKentucky’s league ultimately hurts kids.

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