by Larry Murray…….
We are all familiar with the profitability of Advanced Placement courses for students. That is their main purpose.
First of all, students receive a higher level of instruction in AP classes than is ordinarily the case. Because of the additional training given to TEACHERS, the quality of instruction is much higher.
Equally important is the fact that students who score a 3 or higher on a 5 point scale are usually given college credit for the class. The net is that they receive 3 or more credits, depending on how many AP classes they take, at no cost. The School District is in effect absorbing the expense. Given the ever increasing cost of tuition, going off to college with credits in your pocket can save a considerable amount of money. This is the era when the average student takes 5 years to graduate and incurs considerable debt in the process. Any savings is most valuable.
Some 791 students signed up for 1,746 AP classes or an average of about 2 courses per student. The number of classes passed with a score of 3 or above was 496. That works out to a success rate of about 28%. I will leave that to you readers to decide if that is an acceptable rate, especially considering the amount of money that the District is paying, six figures and then some to the National Math and Science Initiative [NMSI], to promote greater participation and success. Perhaps this year and next, when the NMSI payments escalate markedly (there will be no grant assistance), we can evaluate the dollar cost to the District for each grade of 3 or higher.
There is also a profitability factor for the teachers of AP classes. By state law, they are awarded a $50 bonus for every student who scores a 3 or higher. The Monroe County School District, because of its program with NMSI to improve both participation and success rates in AP classes, has doubled that bonus to $100.
This past year, 42 instructors were teaching AP classes. The total bonus pool amounted to $49,600, with awards ranging from $50 to $5,600, quite an incentive. The average bonus was $1,180. When you consider that the bonus pool only applies to students who score a 3 or above in their AP class, I will again leave that to you readers to decide if that is money well spent or should more be done to increase the 28% success rate.
Along with the AP bonus program, MCSD provides teachers and others with “supplements” for additional work beyond their job descriptions. The supplement pool this past year was $1,980,490. There were 753 recipients of a supplement or an average of $2,630. Obviously, teachers and others who are willing to do more than the minimum are rewarded. More on the supplement program in a later article.