The enemy of my enemy?

The New York Board of Regents has recommended nineteen changes to the rollout of the Common Core in the Empire State, which include the following: a five-year “extension” of the plan to attach high-school graduation to success on the state Regents exams (while students would still have to “pass” Common Core exams, they would not be required to hit the “college-ready” mark until 2022); federal-testing waivers for students with special needs; and—controversially—allowing teachers to contest their evaluation ratings if their districts have done a poor job implementing the Common Core. Governor Cuomo roundly criticized the last idea, condemning it as an attempt to “water down” teacher-evaluation reforms. Oddly, the unions also rejected it—they claimed that it didn’t go far enough. In the end, the Regents backed off, nixing a form of flexibility that many observers believed might actually help the Common Core rollout by making it less unpalatable to New York teachers. Gotta love politics.

Analysts at the American Institutes for Research found that the number of nonacademic professional and administrative employees at colleges and universities in the U.S. has doubled in the last twenty-five years, greatly outstripping the growth in the number of students or faculty. In total, since 1987, universities and colleges added 517,636 administrators and professional employees. Similar disturbing trends can be found in K–12 education; stay tuned for a Fordham report on the subject.

Advanced Placement classes continue to grow in popularity, largely due to efforts to make them widely available to low-income and minority students (the number of low-income graduates who took an AP exam quadrupled in the last decade). Still, 40 percent of public high schools still don’t offer any AP classes. Not surprisingly, as the pool of test-takers has grown, the proportion attaining passing scores has shrunk. What’s unknown is whether the democratization of AP has helped or hindered our highest achieving students, though there are reasons to worry that it’s the latter.

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