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Texas School District Wins College Board Award, Cause for Concern?

Advanced Placement (AP) has been the “gold standard of accelerated academic achievement, bringing first year college level work to the best and brightest on a high school level for years. Its end-of-course exam has translated into transferable college credits for many,” Breitbart Texas has reported.

Certainly, families in Northwest Dallas County were excited when the Irving Independent School District (ISD) was named a College Board’s National AP District of the Year in December. They won in the mid-sized school district category.

The award comes after a decades-long campaign to grow “access to and performance in” the College Board’s signature college preparation Advanced Placement (AP) classes, according to the Dallas Morning News.

However, like much in public education, the AP program experienced changes in 2014 with a redesigned AP US History course and exam that met intense scrutiny nationally  for a politicized agenda, bias, and factual omissions. Huge chunks of history were gutted from its framework and it was not aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills (TEKS), the education standards. Should this be of concern to Texas school districts?

The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) thought so and created an amendment to ensure high school students enrolled in AP US History learned the Texas standards Social Studies standards and not only the College Board framework.

The SBOE asked the College Board to respect the Texas education standards and the state’s sovereignty over what students learn by amending the AP US History; however, the College Board has not created an AP Texas edition.

The College Board owns and administers all AP courses and exams. Their AP US History was redesigned by controversial College Board president David Coleman, who is best known as the architect of the Common Core State Standards.

Coleman also aligned the SAT to the Common Core. The ACT and GED, too, are aligned to the questionable standards. Texas students take the same college readiness entrance exams or high school equivalency tests that are taken in Common Core states.

Irving ISD was the first school district in Texas to pilot the College Board’s School Day SAT in 2010 and each year the numbers have risen from the 39% of juniors in Irving ISD who took the test in 2009, according to the Irving Chamber of Commerce.

Over the past year, the number of students taking the AP exam in the district increased nearly 20 percent and those scoring 3 out of 5 jumped 35 percent.  In November, Irving ISD was named one of 547 across the U.S. and Canada and one of 14 in Texas that made the 5th Annual AP District Honor Roll.

Meanwhile, 15 out of a combined 28 elementary and middle schools in Irving ISD are on the Public Education Grant (PEG) list of failing schools, which Breitbart Texas reported.

Irving ISD Gifted & Talented Curriculum Director Deborah George told the Dallas Morning News that AP participation has gone up because any Irving high school student can enroll in a course and the district also recruits “bright students into the classes, and offer support for those who might struggle in them at first.”

Although access to AP courses drives the narrative, college and career readiness drives Big Education.

This Spring, First Lady Michelle Obama toured the nation with a message to graduating high school teens — not going to college is “unacceptable,” Breitbart Texas reported. She also urged them to apply for federal aid at a time when college tuition couldn’t be higher, Breitbart News reported.

In May, Breitbart Texas also reported on the feds using $75 million in taxpayer dollars to create another competitive grant program to make college attainable and more affordable.

Then, Fox Business reported on an impending college loan government bail-out of $1.1 trillion debt and $121 billion of it was more than 90 days delinquent or in default.

Fox Business likened the eventual free fall to the real estate collapse that forged the financial crisis in 2008. They noted “Making matters worse, college costs are rising and incomes, particularly for college grads in industries other than technology and finance, are falling.”

Instead of putting the brakes on the College and Career Readiness express, Texas public school superintendents flocked to the White House for honors on digital future-readiness; Texas colleges answered the federal “cradle to career” call at a Presidential summit earlier this month.

Economist Peter Morici examined the current college and career ready configuration for Breitbart News. He pointed out that “President Obama’s education policy is simple: Folks with a college education on average earn more money, so to raise family incomes, jam more young folks into colleges with cheap student loans and Pell grants.”

He added, “That’s like observing folks drink more Coke on hot days, then giving away soft drinks to get more sunny summer afternoons.”

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.

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