GRC bucking state AP trends

Published 7:38 pm Saturday, September 24, 2016

A recent study from the Kentucky Department of Education shows that, while Advanced Placement (AP) test scores have risen statewide, the number of students taking the tests has dropped from last year.

However, the same cannot be said for students at George Rogers Clark High School, where the number of testers has risen and scores are the second-highest they have ever been.

According to the KDE report, after several years of increasing numbers of test takers, Kentucky schools 862 fewer students participated in 2016 (30,796) compared to 31,658 in 2015.

However, the testers’ scores have shown some improvement, with 24,400 making a passing grade compared to 24,311 in 2015.

That’s a trend that GRC is not following, however. According to Principal David Bolen, both scores and participation have increased at the school. In 2016 342 students took AP tests, up from 309 in 2015. This was the second-highest number of test takers in the school’s history, falling just 12 students short of 354 test takers recorded in 2014.

Additionally, the number of passing scores increased to 433 this year compared to 355 in 2015.

“I think what’s contributing is the increased opportunity for dual-credit courses,” Bolen said.

Dual credit courses allow high school students to earn credit hours on both the high school and college level, helping them get a head start on higher education.

Bowen said GRC has a good working relationship with Eastern Kentucky University, which has assisted in that endeavor.

“We’ve had some kids leave here with 30 hours of credit,” he said.

Dual credit courses were also mentioned by state Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt, who cited them as a beneficial opportunity for those taking AP courses.

“While I’m happy to see the number of qualifying scores increase, I’m disappointed that we saw a drop in the number of students choosing to take AP exams,” Pruitt said. “We have to do a better job of ensuring all students have the opportunity to take advanced placement courses, and the opportunity to take the tests that could earn them college credit.”

The KDE report also showed that traditionally underrepresented minority students in Kentucky taking AP exams increased by 38 percent. The report largely credited the AdvanceKentucky initiative, a partnership between the agency and the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation. The initiative expanded access to minority and low-income students by providing partial fee waivers and in some cases allowing them to test for free.

Contact Seth Littrell at seth.littrell@winchestersun.com.