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Dual credit opportunities sway students from taking AP courses

Published 12:01pm Saturday, March 2, 2013

BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Playback58@gmail.com

FRANKLIN—The College Board, which supervises the Advanced Placement program, has seen a continued increase in the percentage of Virginia high school seniors taking AP courses as well as meeting the criteria for college credit on AP exams.

In Southampton County Public Schools, 7.8 percent of students took AP courses in 2012 and 6.4 percent met the criteria for college credit. In Isle of Wight County, 28 percent took courses and 23 met the criteria.

The percentages were too low to report for Franklin.

The opportunity to earn college credits while in high school appears to be the reason Franklin graduates largely bypassed taking AP tests last year.

However, Western Tidewater school officials said they encourage students to take the courses and exams.

“The guidance counselors are directed to explain to students the benefits of taking AP courses, said Kelley Conaway, interim director of instruction for Franklin City Public Schools.

“We encourage them,” Conaway said. “The majority of our students take dual enrollment for college credit.”

This is provided through Paul D. Camp Community College.

The high schools also have Virtual Virginia, which has online AP courses such as U.S. government, and

U.S. and world history.

“We’re going to continue to place the AP courses in our offerings guide,” said Conaway.

She knows of at least one student taking the AP test this year.

“Sometimes students will elect to take dual classes instead of AP,” said Dr. Alvera Parrish, superintendent of Southampton County Public Schools.

“The biggest difference is that while both are rigorous, with the AP, the exam is required and for some students it’s a challenge,” Parrish said.

Success depends on the students’ strength in different areas.

“You always want your students to be successful,” she said. “We are constantly encouraging our students to take AP courses.”

Parrish also said the guidance department directs students to take the classes and the number of courses has been increased this school year. New courses include statistics, physics, environmental science and computer science. These are in addition to English literature, psychology. U.S. government, U.S. and world history, calculus and English language composition.

“We’re also preparing students to be engaged in tutorials with teachers. We want to better prepare our students to be more successful with the exams,” said Parrish.

Isle of Wight County Superintendent Katrise Perera said she was impressed with the state and national improvements, but also knows her school system is committed to increasing opportunities for students.

“AP courses in and of themselves are good,” said Isle of Wight Hardy District School Board member Herb DeGroft. “Only your best students should really try that. The rigor of the curriculum is tough on a lot of students.”

  • Alnee

    I am curious if any of the local school systems cover the expense of the final AP accrediting exam. I was unaware of the costs (up to $100+) PER test that the students are expected to pay. This is the second year my younger sibling has participated in the AP program offered by his school district. The first year a grant covered the exams. This year is a completely different story. Students were unaware of the costs and were told they were trying for the grant coverage again. A slip was sent home mid-February stating exam money was due 2/28. My brother had to come up with almost $400 or risk not getting the AP credit for the courses he has busted his butt to pass. The students will not loose the HS credit for passing the class but they are not eligible for the possible college credit without passing the standardized exam for all students. Are these exams worked in to the budget in SoCo, Franklin, and IOW? I wonder if the expense is another factor in the decreased participation by some students. It is a shame when a bright student does not strive for all the educational challenges available… but even more upsetting to think that these children are smart enough to realize that they may feel as a “financial burden” because of a high school class. Education is ALWAYS going to be something we need to encourage younger generations to embrace!!

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    • SandMan

      Good point, but it’s LOSE….not LOOSE!

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      • Alnee

        Thanks for pointing that out! Gotta love auto correct… surprised that there were not other errors from typing on a phone screen…

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