By Joe Gulick Copyright 2011 . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
The number of Lubbock Independent School District students who earned college credit by passing Advanced Placement tests in the past school year more than doubled.
LISD high school students passed 837 AP tests in math, science, English/language arts/reading and social studies in the 2010-11 school year, compared to 398 passing grades the year before.
Frenship High School students also had a significant increase in passing the tests, growing from 70 in 2009-10 to 96 this year.
Advanced Placement courses are college-level courses taught in high school. AP students take tests given during two weeks in May, covering the material presented in the course during the year, said Marybeth Hines, LISD coordinator of advanced academics.
Scores on the tests range from one to five. Students who score a passing grade of three, four or five on the tests qualify to earn college credit at many colleges. Students may take as many as five AP tests a year.
Students who pass several of the AP tests in high school can save a significant amount on college tuition.
LISD students also qualified to earn $100 for every AP test passed, because of a grant from the CH Foundation, Hines said.
In addition to student incentives, the grant paid teachers to review students for the tests at eight Saturday preparation sessions, she said.
LISD Superintendent Karen Garza said AP courses are more rigorous and more aligned with college expectations. Increasing the number of tests taken and passed is part of the district’s commitment to graduating students with college and career readiness, she said.
“Research shows that just taking an AP test increases the likelihood a student will graduate from college,” said Lisa Leach, LISD assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.
The AP tests are extremely hard to pass, Leach said.
“You really have to prepare for it,” agreed Angie Inklebarger, Lubbock-Cooper High School principal.
Teachers must receive special training to teach AP courses, Inklebarger said. As more teachers in a district qualify to teach the courses, the number of students enrolling in AP courses and taking the tests will increase.
When Lubbock-Cooper High School added an AP-qualified physics teacher last school year, the school added 26 students in a Physics II AP course, she said.
The Frenship ISD went from 160 AP tests taken in the 2009-10 school year to 222 tests last year, said Bonnie Thompson, college readiness coordinator.
“We’re seeing a steady increase from year to year. I think it is due to our counselors’ advising students,” she said.
Thompson and Inklebarger said students may receive college credit for dual credit courses, which are taken in partnership with South Plains College. LISD students have the same option.
However, some out-of-state colleges or private schools won’t transfer the dual credit courses, where AP courses have more of a national acceptance, Inklebarger said.
“It’s up to the school,” she said.
Counselors work with students on their college plans to determine whether dual credit courses or AP courses would be better for them, Inklebarger said.
The LISD partnered with AP Strategies, a company specializing in helping students earn qualifying AP test scores, and Laying the Foundation, a company providing training to teachers in pre-AP courses.
Pre-AP courses are more rigorous courses taught beginning in middle school to prepare students for later AP courses.
Garza said eventually LISD administrators would like to have every middle school student enrolled in at least one pre-AP course.
“We’ve got a long way to go before that happens,” she said.
Direct link to article: http://lubbockonline.com/education/2011-08-10/students-see-success-grow-ap-tests