A new charter school is applying to open in DC and Jay Mathews is all excited because it combines two of his favorite education reform concepts: charters and AP.
According to Mathews, the original version of this model in Tucson, Arizona “has become by one measure the sixth most challenging high school in the country”.
What is that “one measure”?
Why it’s Mathews’ own creation, the “challenge” index, by which he compiles an annual list of “best” high schools based solely on a ratio of number of AP tests (and other college-level exams) taken to graduates.”
It’s one reason why he loves the DC area.
This region has the highest concentration of AP and International Baccalaureate courses and tests in the country. Some local schools, like Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, do almost nothing but AP and IB testing every May.
Can’t imagine a better way for kids to spend one month out of the year than doing “almost nothing” but testing.
Anyway, the point of Mathews’ column, beyond taking yet another opportunity to express his adoration for charter schools and AP tests (a two-fer!), is to speculate on whether a charter high school based on the AP program will succeed in Washington, DC.
I’m pretty sure it will. Â In the same way that KIPP and other high profile charter programs have succeeded in the city.
By attracting a relatively small, highly select community of students with very motivated parents and siphoning off money from the public schools, while supplementing those funds with large pots of corporate donations and grants (which in this case they’ll need to pay actual living wages for AP-trained teachers).
It’s how all charters demonstrate that they can do a better job than public schools for the same cost.
Except that most don’t.