Program boosts AP class results
Program boosts AP class results
Grant helps city, county students’ achievement
Published: Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 27, 2012 at 11:30 p.m.
TUSCALOOSA | The five high schools in the Tuscaloosa city and county school systems that received A+ College Ready grants last school year saw substantial growth in the number of students enrolled in advanced placement classes.
Mary Boehm, president of A+ College Ready, said that a total of 380 students enrolled in high school AP science, math and English classes in the county and city school systems during the 2010-11 school year, which was before A+ College Ready was implemented.
In 2011-12, 919 students enrolled in the advanced classes, an increase of 142 percent.
The number of students passing AP exams in both systems also significantly increased, growing from 182 in 2010-11 to 344 in 2011-12, an 89 percent increase.
“There was about an 8 to 10 percent growth nationally of students passing advanced placement exams, so the 89 percent growth that the two districts showed is at least eight times the national average,” Boehm said. “I want to congratulate the teachers and administrators for this great level of success. What’s remarkable is the leadership in these schools are getting this kind of progress.”
Boehm said minority students in the schools also saw significant increases in enrolling and passing AP courses, but she didn’t have any numbers reflecting that yet.
A+ College Ready works to expand AP course offerings in math, science and English at public schools in Alabama and increase the number of students receiving passing scores on AP exams. A+ College Ready is the operating division of A+ Education Partnership, a nonprofit organization that plans and implements funding and training for AP classes.
The five high schools in the Tuscaloosa area that received A+ College Ready grants last year were Hillcrest, Tuscaloosa County High, Central, Paul W. Bryant and Northridge.
Amanda Cassity, director of secondary instruction for the Tuscaloosa County School System, said that Hillcrest and Tuscaloosa County High each received an A+ College Ready grant award of about $45,000 for the first year of the three-year grant.
The grant award was $54,858 for Paul W. Bryant, $68,996 for Northridge and $46,470 for Central, according to a city schools news release in March 2011.
The grant money is used to train teachers, to provide classroom materials and to give financial incentive for students to pass their AP exams.
“If a student makes a qualifying score (they pass the AP exam with a 3, 4 or 5), they get $100 for every qualifying score, so there’s incentive,” Cassity said. “It’s part of the grant money.”
Though both school systems saw significant increases in the number of students enrolling in AP courses and passing AP exams, the county system saw larger gains than the city system.
Boehm said the county school system went from having 95 students enrolled in AP courses in 2010-11 to 336 in 2011-2012, a 254 percent increase. The number of students passing AP exams in the county went from 47 in 2010-11 to 156 in 2011-12, an increase of 232 percent.
“For the system, this is really exciting,” Cassity said. “One of the things we want to do is increase rigor across the board. We want to increase the students’ expectations and the teachers’ expectations.”
Tuscaloosa County High went from 40 students enrolled in AP courses in 2010-11 to 156 in 2011-12, and from 19 students passing AP exams in 2010-11 to 73 in 2011-12.
Hillcrest went from 55 students enrolled in 2010-11 to 180 in 2011-12, and from 28 students passing AP exams in 2010-11 to 83 passing in 2011-12.
Allison Mays, principal of Hillcrest, said she’s very proud of the progress her AP teachers and students have made.
“This is a great program,” she said. “A lot of our students had never taken an AP class before. At first, a lot of the students were intimidated because of the rigor of the coursework, but in the end they all really benefited from it.
“Our students earned 650 hours of UA college credits this year through taking AP courses, (which are college-level courses). That translates into $451,750 in UA tuition. This included our social studies courses, which did great as well.”
The city school system went from having 285 students enrolled in AP courses in 2010-11 to 583 in 2011-12, a 105 percent increase.
The number of students passing AP exams in the city went from 135 in 2010-11 to 188 in 2011-12, a 39 percent increase.
Central went from having 55 students enrolled in AP courses in 2010-11 to 165 in 11-2012, and from 0 students passing AP exams in 2010-11 to three in 2011-12.
Paul W. Bryant High went from 57 students enrolled in AP courses in 2010-11 to 187 in 2011-12, and from 19 students passing AP exams in 2010-11 to 39 in 2011-12.
Northridge went from 173 students enrolled in AP courses in 2010-11 to 231 in 2011-12, and from 116 students passing AP exams in 2010-11 to 146 in 2011-12.