Dual credit opportunities sway students from taking AP coursesPublished 12:01pm Saturday, March 2, 2013
BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
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.”