During the Clinton City Board of Education meeting Monday night, Clinton High principal Ron Bean presented members an update on the school’s Advanced Placement (AP) program.
Bean shared that the school will be offering students seven AP courses to choose from next school year, noting that the number is a good amount especially for a school the size of CHS.
Vice chairwoman Georgina Zeng expressed concern that the school is not offering an AP course in biology and requested that Bean seriously consider adding that to the list.
In the presentation, Bean also explained how the school plans to move forward as it seeks to improve its AP program. Continuing to explore other AP opportunities and continuing to provide AP training for teachers and staff were included in the plan.
There was much discussion when the presentation turned to AP exams, which students are required to take this school year but will not be required to take starting in 2013-14.
According to Bean and superintendent Stuart Blount, some students have been taking the AP exams only because they are currently required to and because taking the AP exams earn them quality points which can raise their GPA, regardless of whether or not they pass the exams.
Blount explained that the students, those who are not taking the exams for college credit which is the purpose of the AP exams, are tending to earn low scores because their incentives are different, based only on taking the test, not necessarily passing it.
This development has led the school to make the AP exams voluntary, hoping that the students who choose to take the exams will be taking them for the intended purpose — to earn college credit.
Helping Bean explain the change, Blount shared with the board that strengthening the school’s instructional practices and raising student expectations is the main priority and that focus, combined with the voluntary AP testing, should help improve the high school’s AP program.
However, Blount noted that taking such measures to improve the AP program would not necessarily be easy and that it would take time to change the prevailing mindset.
Board member Carol Worley expressed concern over how the school will gauge its improvement if students are not required to take the AP exams. Fellow board member Diane Viser agreed, pointing out that it was a good question.
Blount said they would gauge the school’s improvement by those students who opt to take the AP exams. “There will be students who choose to take the exams,” assured the superintendent.
Viser confirmed her agreement again with Worley but consented that she also understood where the school was coming from. “We don’t want students taking the exams and only getting ones,” low scores that are noted on their transcripts.
Zeng questioned whether or not the school had considered giving mock exams to students who did not want to take the real AP exams as a way to have a larger pool from which to gauge its improvement.
Bean responded that students not taking the official AP exams would still be required to take a final exam provided by their teacher.
Clinton City Schools next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for June 13.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.