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More seeking Advanced Placement

September 22, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The number of Washington County Public Schools students taking Advanced Placement exams reached an all-time high during the last school year, Boyd Michael, executive director for secondary education, told the Washington County Board of Education during Tuesday's meeting.

School board member Bernadette Wagner attributed the increase to the board's decision in January to give Advanced Placement classes more weight than regular classes. Students are more likely to take a tough Advanced Placement class if they know it carries more weight than another course, she said.

According to the adopted policy, an "A" in Advanced Placement courses - college-level courses taught according to a national curriculum linked to a national assessment - would equal 5 points. A "B" in an Advanced Placement course would equal 4 points. Four points is the current weight for an "A" in a nonweighted course.

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During a presentation on students' Advanced Placement and SAT scores, Michael and other school system officials compared the test results to those of prior years and spoke about steps being taken to try to further increase the scores. The steps include offering more Advanced Placement classes.

Michael said 501 students in the school system took Advanced Placement tests during the 2003-04 school year. That is up from 352 in the 2002-03 year and 261 in the 2001-02 year, he said.

The total number of tests given to county students also went up, with 850 exams given during the 2003-04 school year compared to 567 in the 2002-03 school year, Michael said.

The total number of students getting a score of at least a three, out of five, on tests also was at an all-time high, Michael said, with 402 students getting that score on exams. That is an increase over the 288 who received that score in 2002-03, he said.

Michael and Lenny Lock, supervisor for testing and accountability, also analyzed the school system's SAT score performance, which essentially was the same in 2004 as in 2003.

But while the scores were about the same, the number of students taking the SAT increased from 617 in 2003 to 725 in 2004, Lock said.

Wagner attributed the increase in the number of students taking the SAT to students being encouraged to take the Preliminary SAT National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, also known as the PSAT.

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