Acknowledging that "with guys it's sometimes not cool to be smart," Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier said the district is particularly short of "non-white males" among the ranks of those taking Advanced Placement tests.
HISD has been on a push for years, even before Grier arrived, to get more kids to take AP courses and exams. At most Texas state schools, a score of 3 or above (out of a possible 5) on an AP final exam means college credit. This, Grier pointed out, can save parents money.
In 2005, HISD had 7,169 students take the AP exam and 3,522 scored at least a 3. Last year, 16,556 took the exam and 6,262 scored at least a 3.
Grier repeated what he has said before, that there is value even if a student scores only a 1 on the AP exam because he or she has been exposed to a more academically rigorous course that better prepares kids for college.
He also said, however, that he wants to see more kids testing out at the 3-or-higher level. His administration is going to be evaluating test results and if, for instance, there's a teacher who's been teaching AP courses for years and only a small percentage of her kids are scoring at the 3-or-higher level that the teacher will be given some additional training and if that doesn't do the trick, will no longer be allowed to teach AP classes.
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Getting back to those teenage boys, Grier said that the best thing to do is attract them to a particular class in groups, counting on them to join in on what their friends are doing. Principals and counselors throughout the district are being encouraged to up their AP numbers, he said.