Advanced Academics: Aspiring for Both Equity and Excellence
All High School Advanced Academic Programs courses (Honors, AP, IB) in Fairfax county are open access, and do not require screening. And Fairfax county tries its best to place underrepresented students (Blacks, Hispanics, low socio-economic status) into its advanced academic programs. Worth noting is its Young Scholars program, which "is designed to find and nurture advanced academic potential in students from historically underrepresented populations". Although, advanced curriculum is available to all students in both middle and high school, the programs for elementary are not. Since Blacks, Hispanics and children from poor families are underrepresented in the advanced academic programs in elementary, they are therefore less likely to be prepared or motivated to participate in more challenging or rigorous courses in middle or high school. The Young Scholars program tries to correct this inequity.
|Abovce copied from Fairfax County Association for the Gifted|
Still underrepresented, Blacks and Hispanics are even scoring much lower than Asians and Whites in Advanced Placement Exams which students take at the end of these advanced courses. Kolluri offers an explanation:
"Some research suggests instructional shortcomings of AP curriculums, especially at schools serving marginalized students."The research article elaborates on this:
A substantial body of research documents the challenges of schools serving low-income students (Harper, 2015). Schools in low-income neighborhoods lack quality teachers (Eckert, 2013; Ronfeldt, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2013), face elevated levels of school violence (Kitzmiller, 2013), and struggle with persistent underachievement (Levin, 2009; Zhou, 2003). The challenges of limited resources and stubbornly low achievement might likely carry over into the AP programs at these schools, but research in this area is limited. Klopfenstein (2003) argues that effective AP courses require significant financial resources and highly trained teachers. Effective instructors may be particularly necessary given the breadth of coverage expected of AP courses. From this standpoint, improving AP access and effectiveness for students from marginalized backgrounds might be contingent on more general efforts to improve urban and rural education.
The last sentence of the paragraph is especially striking. In basic education, achieving excellence is contingent on achieving genuine equity. Advanced academics can not really thrive without first improving education for all.