Maybe paying for good grades is not so bad

Jay Matthews:

I have been compiling data on college-level courses and exams at every public high school in the Washington area since 1998. It’s fun, like collecting baseball cards. Sometimes schools make progress. Sometimes they slip. Sometimes I find weird and exciting statistical jumps.

This year, the numbers from Stafford County triggered my curiosity. Three of its schools had big increases in Advanced Placement tests given last May. Those are difficult three-hour exams at the end of tough courses. Many students who would do well in them don’t take them, even though they help prepare for college. But at Colonial Forge High School, the number of AP tests jumped 25 percent. Tests at North Stafford High were up 56 percent. At Stafford High, the increase was 105 percent, from 543 to 1,113 tests. The passing rates declined slightly from the previous year, but the number of tests with passing scores was much higher.