Gary Rubinstein, who teaches mathematics at elite Stuyvesant High School in New York City, is a crack data analyst. Although he was one of the first to join Teach for America, he has become one of the most perceptive critics of “reform.”

In this post, he examines Louisiana’s claims of great success on Advanced Placement exams.

He writes:

To education ‘reformers,’ test scores are the ultimate measure of success. Test scores are the evidence that the country’s education system is broken. Test scores of certain charter schools prove that most teachers in this country have low expectations and don’t try very hard. Schools have been shut down over test scores. Teachers have been fired over test scores.

Contrary to the narrative of common core proponents, there are currently many national tests that can be used to compare test scores of different states. There’s the NAEP, the ACT, the SAT, and, probably the highest quality of all of them, the Advanced Placement exams. Though I’m not a huge fan of a lot that The College Board does, I find the tests that I’m knowledgeable about, AB Calculus, BC Calculus, and Computer Science, to be good tests.

Education ‘reform’ leaders use low test scores as a way to justify their radical policy changes. “Kids can’t wait,” they say. They promise that they know what works and that they just need some time for their changes to take effect.

In Louisiana, the State Education Commissioner John White has boasted for the past three years about increased participation in taking AP exams, but he underplays the continued very low passing rates of students on those exams. Gary has commented on these AP passing rates every year and notes that this year, John White is claiming “big gains.” So Gary takes a closer look.

He finds that Louisiana has passing rates (a score of 3 or higher) that are third from the bottom in the nation.

True, the participation rates have gone up, but even so, Louisiana continues to be one of the lowest performing states in the nation.

Gary writes:

In addition to the state-by-state data released by the College Board, the state of Louisiana, a few months ago, released AP data for their districts and their schools. These numbers are shockingly low and certainly seem to be something that ‘outcome driven reformers’ want to ignore. Sci Academy, which is one of those New Schools For New Orleans schools touted on Oprah, for example, had over 110 students take an AP exam while less than 10 of them passed one. Out of about 500 students who took an AP in the entire Recovery School District, only 27 students, or 5.5% passed one.

‘Reformers’ like to say that they get increased freedom in exchange for increased test score accountability. They are truly running out of time to deliver on their promises.