Appearing frustrated at what she called the “distractions” of a random drug testing policy and a proposal for school uniforms at Fairfield Central High School, School Board member Annie McDaniel Tuesday night requested an update on the administration’s progress in reinstating Advanced Placement (AP) courses for the 2012-2013 school year.
“We were promised that we were going to have a program over there next year, that it was going to be reinstated and we were going to have highly qualified teachers,” McDaniel said. “I would like to know where we are with it, the teachers who are going to be teaching, where they got certified to be an AP teacher and how many years they have been an AP teacher.”
Dr. Claudia Edwards, Deputy Superintendent of Academics, told the Board that administration has identified the teachers who would be teaching the AP courses and the high school would be offering AP courses in biology, calculus and history for the 2012-2013 school year. She also said that administration has been in discussion with Midlands Technical College to offer dual-credit courses in English literature and English language.
Edwards said that teachers for the courses were not yet AP endorsed, but were scheduled for the AP Institute this summer. One of the teachers, she said, is AP certified, but not AP endorsed.
“I would just like to know when the wishes of this board are going to be taken seriously when it comes to academics,” McDaniel said. “I thought we said we wanted highly qualified teachers over there. If we’re using teachers who are already over there, and they have not got endorsed yet, they won’t be endorsed until this year and start teaching our students AP courses, and we’re not offering AP English – I need somebody to help me understand.”
Edwards said 11 students applied for the English lit course, while only three or four signed up for the English language course. With the low interest, she said, Midlands Tech offered the best option, where 20 students qualified for the English 101 course.
“We want to build this AP program to be a very, very good quality program,” Edwards said. “I would rather offer a few courses and do these courses well, versus offering a slew of them and these courses are not taught and implemented in a way that’s fair to our children.”
As for AP certified and endorsed teachers, David Corley, principal at Fairfield Central High School, told the Board that the positions had been advertised.
“We are advertising (for teachers) who are qualified and have AP certification,” Corley said. “If you’re fortunate enough to get one, you’re blessed. If not, then you have to take them to be trained. You have to deal with what you have. I heard you (McDaniel) say we’ve got some of the same people here – you’re right, some of the same people are here. Until they leave, you have to deal with what you have. If you don’t have them, you don’t have them; and we don’t have them on our staff.”
AP courses were scrubbed from the 2011-2012 curriculum by then superintendent Dr. Patrice Robinson. The move, which was done without Board approval and without seeking a waiver from the S.C. State Department of Education, created controversy when it came to light last fall. The District found itself in danger of losing its state accreditation and had to go before the State Board of Education last winter to seek a special waiver after the fact.
“I just cannot believe that after what we went through and the paper that was written and taken down there to the State Department of Education, we’re now coming in here and saying this is what we’re doing for AP classes in this district,” McDaniel said, “and then we try to blame the students.”
Board member Beth Reid, on the other hand, commended Edwards for the work she and the administration had done on reinstating AP courses, but added that she thought 11 students seemed like enough to offer the English literature course.
“My opinion is we’re on a good path,” Reid said. “I like what I’m hearing from an academic and curriculum standpoint.”