Minority, low-income students lag peers in AP exam participation

Last month, Montgomery County Public Schools announced that high school students had taken a record number of Advanced Placement exams, which allow them to receive college credit. But as with many measures of success in the school system, there remains a huge gap in performance between minority and low-income students and their counterparts. Our own Fred Stichnoth breaks down the results in a letter to the Gazette:

Today, very roughly, the proportion of MCPS AP exams taken by blacks and Hispanics is only half their representation among MCPS high school students; and the proportion of 3 or higher scores earned by blacks and Hispanics is only a third their representation among MCPS high school students.

The proportions are worse for students in poverty: their proportion of MCPS’ exams is only a quarter of their proportion of MCPS high school students; and their proportion of tests scored 3 or higher is only a fifth of their representation in MCPS high schools.

In MCPS’ celebratory Dec. 6 announcement “MCPS Students Take a Record Number of AP Exams,” Dr. Joshua Starr pronounces himself “very pleased.” His “there are still significant gaps” is merely an increasingly common, fine print, boilerplate add-on.

The superintendent’s comparison of black and Hispanic performance in MCPS to that in the state and nation is a bit like comparing Division I to Division III: It ignores the superior resources at MCPS’ disposal and MCPS’ Core Value commitment to closing the gaps among its own students.

Montgomery County Public Schools is known as one of the best school systems in the country. But we can’t hold on to that reputation if we hold different groups of students to different standards.

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