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Washington County AP test scores, number of takers, on the rise

October 01, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Washington County Public Schools officials reported increases Monday in the number of students taking Advanced Placement tests and in the number of students performing well on those exams.

Similar gains were reported in International Baccalaureate tests taken by students at North Hagerstown High School, the only Washington County public school to offer the degree program.

According to data released to The Herald-Mail, enrollment in AP and IB classes increased, and officials expect it will have increased again when data is reported in 2009.

AP tests give students the opportunity to take more rigorous courses and earn credit at some colleges and universities if a certain score is obtained. The tests are graded on a scale of 1 to 5. The IB diploma is recognized by universities around the world, and tests are scored on a seven-point scale.

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"It's very good news," Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education Donna Hanlin said. "Our ultimate goal is to provide students the opportunity to take rigorous courses."

Director of Secondary Education Clyde Harrell said students who take IB courses are required to take the IB tests in order to graduate with an IB diploma, which is recognized by universities around the world.

Harrell said students are not required to take AP exams, but it is encouraged.

Washington County Public Schools data shows that during the 2007-08 school year, enrollment in AP classes was 1,588 students, with some students counted more than once based on the number of AP courses they took. In that same school year, 1,360 AP exams were taken by 757 students. Thirty-nine students took both AP and IB tests.

Of those 1,360 exams, less than half (670) resulted in a score of 3 or higher, which is considered the level at which most colleges will offer credit for the course. During the 2006-07 school year, 679 students scored a 3 or higher.

During the 2007-08 school year, 242 students were enrolled in IB courses. That was 115 more than in 2006-07, the first year the program was offered at North High.

In 2007-08, 25 students took IB tests and 39 took both AP and IB tests, according to school system data. Those students took 149 exams, and 108 of those students received a score of 4 or higher. In 2006-07, 28 students took 51 IB exams, and 39 of those students received a score of 4 or higher.

Harrell said Monday that AP and IB testing data showed "steady progress."

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