Archived Story

BRHS sees 160% increase in qualifying AP scores

Published 7:26pm Thursday, July 14, 2011

Before the 2010-2011 school year, Benjamin Russell High School was selected to participate in the A+ College Ready Advanced Placement Program, which aided the school’s AP program by providing funds for teacher development, supplies and student incentives.

The AP testing scores came back this month, and they show that joining the program proved to be a success.

In the two school years prior to the most recent, there were 40 total qualifying AP exam scores (20 in each year). But, after becoming involved with the A+ program, the number jumped to 52 this past year, a 160 percent increase.

“That’s without a doubt the highest number of passing scores we’ve ever had,” said BRHS principal Jose Reyes.

A qualifying score is classified as a 3 on a final AP exam, which is graded on a 1-5 scale. Any student that earns a qualifying score gets college credit in addition to the high school credit.

“Several students received multiple qualifying scores on two or more exams,” Reyes said. “That will allow them to jump straight into college coursework that the normal incoming freshman would not be able to take. Basically, they’ll enter college farther along than their peers.”

Reyes said that sometimes there is a misconception that having a high GPA gets a student a scholarship.

“GPA is certainly something to be concerned with, but colleges will now tell you that they are looking at the student’s ACT score and the rigor of the coursework that a child took in high school,” Reyes said. “In other words, if a child took and passed AP courses in high school, then colleges are pretty well-assured that student also has a great chance to do well in college.”

Reyes attributed the increase in test scores to the quality of the teachers, as well as the school’s switch to a five-block schedule, which allowed AP courses to be taught for an entire year rather than just one semester.

“The success of the students goes back to the teachers,” Reyes said. “Our AP teachers take pride in what they’re doing and they really care about making sure the students do well.”

He said monetary incentives for students also helped. Any student that earned a qualifying score received $100. Teachers also got some incentives based on student performance.

Reyes said he hopes to see participation in the program continue to grow.

“We want students who normally would not take an AP course to get involved and take at least one course,” Reyes said. “That’s going to give that child a better idea of what college is going to be like. It’s going to prepare them for the rigor they’re going to see when they get to college.

“We had more exams administered this year than we ever had and that’s what we want each year.”

Reyes said there will be a couple of parent meetings to discuss next year’s AP courses before school starts on Aug. 11.