The tracking and sorting process goes on, while the administration denies its long-term effects on the students. Placement into high school courses is decided on the basis of teacher recommendations, not grades, strangely enough.Same here.
In our affluent high school, we're told, "all the students who remain in the top math track, who take AP BC calc, receive 5s." As a parent, I feel that this means that they are too restrictive in placement, and encourage too many children to drop out of the most demanding track. 3 is passing. Our society does not need to save tuition for 6% of the graduating class. Our society needs as many children as possible to take challenging math classes.
I took AP BC calc in my day, and received a 5. Frankly, it's not that challenging a course. More than 6% of the school population should be prepared to take the test. If the top 20% were encouraged to remain on track for BC Calc, or even the top 15%, I'd find it much more equitable.
I do feel the pressure of, "your kid's not that special, you know," in the insistence that the academic load is challenging, while seeing how restrictive placement is.
Attewell's study (pdf file) is a revelation:
The odds of a student in an affluent star public school taking AP math or AP science are 71 -76 percent of the odds of a student of the same demographics and SAT who attends a nonstar public school.That's what we pay the big bucks for.
The Winner-Take-All High School: Organizational Adaptations to Educational
by Paul Attewell