Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Happenings In Texas Higher Education

Items of interest surrounding post-secondary or "higher" education topics swirl in Texas.

It appears Texas students may be among the highest in advanced placement.

Around the country, many high schools offer what are known as "AP" or "Advanced Placement" courses. These courses offer an opportunity for accelerated high school students to compete to earn college credit while still in high school. The courses available cover a variety of topics form history to calculus, computer science to English composition or literary analysis, to biology and chemistry.

I took AP classes in high school during my senior year back in the mid-80s. They were fast-paced. We met an average of 4 days per week, an hour per day, all year. That would amount to 10-12 credit hours per subject in college. Universities may, but are not required, grant the college credit depending upon the scores the student earns on the standardized AP tests near the end of the year. The higher the score, the more credits awarded, normally. College credits are normally awarded to students that score a 3 or better on the tests.

Over the past 10 years, Texas has nearly doubled its state-wide participation rate in AP courses. The number of ethnically Latino/Hispanic students has nearly tripled. That is seen as a high achievement of success by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). In fact, the number of Texas students earning a 3 or better in 2013 (over 52,000) was greater than the total number of AP students in 2003 (approximately 48,500).

The TEA reports the following additional facts regarding the AP program in Texas:

  •  35.9 percent of public high school graduates in the class of 2013 took an AP Exam, (compared to 20.4 percent of graduates in the class of 2003).
  • 18.5 percent of public high school graduates in the class of 2013 scored 3 or higher on an AP Exam (compared to 11.9 percent of graduates in the class of 2003).
  • 42.5 percent of 2013 graduates who took at least one AP Exam were Hispanic/Latino (compared to 29.6 percent of AP Exam takers in the class of 2003).
  • In the Class of 2013, 43,031 Hispanic/Latino graduates took at least one AP Exam during high school – nearly three times the number of Hispanic/Latino graduates who took an AP Exam in the class of 2003.
  • Hispanic/Latino graduates accounted for 36.9 percent of students who scored 3 or higher on an AP Exam in the class of 2013 (compared to 28.7 percent of graduates in the class of 2003).
  • 49.9 percent of 2013 graduates who took at least one AP Exam were low-income students (compared to 23.1 percent of AP Exam takers in the class of 2003).
  • In the Class of 2013, 50,584 low-income graduates took at least one AP Exam during high school – more than four times the number of low-income graduates who took an AP Exam in the class of 2003.
  • Low-income students accounted for 43.9 percent of 2013 graduates who scored 3 or higher on an AP Exam (compared to 20.2 percent of low-income graduates in the class of 2003).
  • In the Class of 2013, 9,147 African-American graduates took at least one AP Exam during high school (compared to 2,780 in the class of 2003).
  • In the Class of 2013, 2,487 African-American graduates scored 3 or higher on an AP Exam (compared to 853 in the class of 2003).
  • In the Class of 2013, 36,728 white graduates took at least one AP Exam during high school (compared to 25,445 in the class of 2003).
  • In the Class of 2013, 22,663 white graduates scored 3 or higher on an AP Exam (compared to 15,422 in the class of 2003).
Commissioner of Education Michael William stated
 
“Texas has made great strides in increasing AP access to a broader, more diverse group of students reflective of the changing demographics of our state. Our state ultimately benefits each year we see increased participation in the number of students participating and succeeding in the AP program.”

On Texas's achievements, College Board Vice President (in charge of the national AP program) Trevor Packer remarked:

 “Texas is obviously committed to broadening AP access to more low-income and minority students. We congratulate them on their successes and encourage them as they move forward to ensure that all students have the same opportunity to reach their full potential.”
 Of the report, Gov. Rick Perry released the following statement:

"Texas has become a beacon of opportunity for job creators looking for a skilled workforce ready to take on any need an employer may have. Texas students must be equipped with the skills to compete in Texas' thriving economy. Increased participation in programs like AP means that Texans are better prepared after graduation, giving our high school students an early start at college and potentially saving them money in the long run."

 

Meanwhile, UT's Chancellor Resigns


The University of Texas's Chancellor, Francisco Cigarroa resigned from his position. He plans to remain in his position until a replacement is nominated and approved.

Many speculated on his reasons for resigning. Chancellor Cigarroa and UT-Austin President Bill Powers have often been at odds over several issues, including transparency and student-faculty communications.

However, both men retain high regard and respect for one another, reportedly. Cigarroa, despite criticisms of Powers, told the university's board of regents that Powers needs to remain in office.

Dr. Cigarroa, MD was offered the position as Head of Pediatric Surgery at University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio, TX. Dr. Cigarroa has maintained practicing as a pediatric surgeon and is considered one of the nation's leading pediatric transplant surgeons. After 5 years as chancellor of the University of Texas, Dr. Cigarroa seeks to return to his lifelong passion of treating children. Dr. Cigarroa's father is almost 90 years old and still practices medicine. It's a role model Dr. Francisco Cigarroa wishes to follow.

Of his resignation, Gov. Rick Perry stated:

"Francisco Cigarroa has been a strong proponent for the University system throughout his tenure, and his efforts will pay dividends for our state for many years to come. It says a lot about him that his departure is tied to his love of his important work saving lives as a pediatric transplant surgeon. I thank him for his service to the people of Texas and wish him well in the future."