Who decides what will be taught to Georgia's best and brightest high school students?
The Pied Pipers
AP (Advanced Placement)
IB (International Baccalaureate)
lead Georgia students away from the truth.
Georgia students are led away by the Pied Pipers named AP and IB.
According to this press release from the Georgia DOE, students who pass AP or IB courses will be exempt from the Georgia Milestones End of Course Common Core based tests. The authority to bypass the required Georgia tests cited by the Georgia DOE comes from SB 364.
Here, the Georgia DOE claims that the highest achieving students in Georgia may enroll in and pass AP or IB courses (not tests) as their sole accountability measure for achievement in those courses and subjects.
The year before SB 364 was passed, the Georgia legislature eliminated the Georgia based High School Graduation Test, a broad test of basic skills in reading, writing, math, science and social studies that Georgia students had to pass in order to graduate from high school. (HB 91) This bill retroactively allowed students to receive high school diplomas who had attempted Georgia's High School Graduation test but did not pass. Now, instead of having to pass the Georgia High School Graduation Test, one test administered to all, students would have to take and pass End of Course tests in core subjects, based on the newly implemented Common Core standards. (SB 364 lines 202-204)
The Georgia State Board of Education and Richard Woods claim that SB 364 allows them the authority to grant AP and IB courses a special loophole. Why do they believe that AP and IB courses deserve special treatment? Why are they so opposed to what they call "double testing?" The Georgia State Board of Education and Richard Woods have failed to make an exception for the "double testing" allowed by the local school districts who actually want to test reading, not just language arts. (SB 364 line 181) Why do they think they may grant an exception for AP and IB courses?
How many people know that Advanced Placement (AP) is controlled by the College Board, a private company? How many people know that there are no elected officials at the College Board? Do they know that membership is done "country club style," with current members of the College Board voting to approve or deny the admittance of new members, based on their commitment to the goals of the College Board. Test fees are paid to the College Board by the students, with some test fees being paid by the local districts. The coursework for AP classes is dictated by the College Board and purchased by local school districts. Once the course is selected, there is no teacher, parent, student, local school board, or state level discretion over the curriculum of an AP class. The purpose of the class is to pass the commercially prepared and subject specific AP test in order to earn college credit for that subject. Some colleges honor this and award credit, some do not.
International Baccalaureate (IB) was created by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization. Local school districts pay fees to utilize the IB curriculum. The worldview of the United Nations is advocated through the IB program. Additionally, once an IB course is selected, there is no teacher, parent, student, local school board, or state level discretion over the curriculum in an IB class.
Lines 239-242 of SB 364 describe the State Board of Education's authority over testing:
"(c) The State Board of Education shall have the authority to condition the awarding of a high school diploma to a student upon achievement of satisfactory scores on end-of course assessments and other instruments adopted and administered by the state board pursuant to subsection (a) of this Code section."
Does the law above grant an exception to end of course assessments for AP and IP courses? Is a grade in a course "adopted and administered by the state board?" Since when does a state board administer a course in a local school district? The language in this law clearly references testing, not grading in a course offered in a local school. The State Board of Education does not administer the AP tests. Did the legislature give the State Board of Education the authority to make these exceptions? No, it did not.
As we all seek answers to the too-much-testing dilemma, we find that the Georgia State Board of Education and Richard Woods have abdicated their responsibility to make sure that what students are taught and tested on is true. Should the country club of AP or the UN be able to determine what is true for our students in Georgia? Why have the State Board of Education and Richard Woods decided not to tap into the best and brightest experts in Georgia to create materials for college level courses and tests for Georgia students? Why are they relying on a corporation from New York (the College Board) or Brussels (UNESCO) to do it for them? In trying to escape the common core based tests have we gone to something even worse?
Citizens, parents, students, teachers and local school board members should contact their representatives and let them know that we expect more from our elected officials. Authority over what is taught should not be in the hands of private companies or international organizations, it should be in the hands of the people who care most about the students: parents, teachers, students and locally elected school officials. History and experience have taught us that local control, once lost, is almost impossible to restore. We need to raise our voices now so that authority over what our children learn is not lost.