I read an article by Emma Brown in the Washington Post concerning the Federal Civil rights complaint filed over the low number of black and Latino students at elite Thomas Jefferson High at 6560 Braddock Road Alexandria, VA 22312. The advocacy group, Coalition of the Silence, filed the complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, alleging black and Latino Students are not represented at Thomas Jefferson because the “pipeline” of gifted education programs has systematically shut them out at the elementary school level. The admission application is processed in eighth grade but the Coalition of the Silence contends the application for admission to the prestigious school in reality starts much earlier in the students’ career.
The “pipeline” does not seem to be working for black and Latino students at Thomas Jefferson. Interestingly, as I finished the article I began to analyze our Advance Placement (AP) data for the 2012 school year. James Monroe administered 240 AP exams, 67.9 percent taken by white students and 32.1 percent taken by minority students. The minority student population is underrepresented because the minority student population is over 59 percent of the student population at James Monroe. However, the Thomas Jefferson article makes mention that black and Latino underrepresentation could be attributed to “less preparation than their affluent peers”. When I analyzed our AP data, I found 27 tests, or 11.25% were taken by students that qualified for a free/reduced lunch. All but four tests of the 27 were taken by black and Latino students.
At James Monroe, the minority student population and the socially-economically challenged population are underrepresented by the AP exams taken. I am not sure why our minority student population is underrepresented by the AP exams taken. Perhaps our “pipeline” feeding the AP classes is not effectively working for our minority student population, but why? Perhaps as a school and as a division, the process of being identified as an AP student should be more rigorously analyzed. Perhaps our “pipeline” to AP classes has a problem, but why?
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