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More Washington Co. students taking advanced placement courses, tests

October 02, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — While the number of Washington County Public School students taking advanced placement courses and the number of AP exams taken increased for the fourth straight year, some of the discussion during Tuesday’s school board meeting concerned whether some students are overextending themselves by taking the courses or taking too many of them.

Richard Akers, director for secondary schools and student services, said it’s one thing for students to challenge themselves by taking one AP course and another to stretch themselves by taking four.

Akers said he didn’t want to discourage students from challenging themselves, but he also doesn’t want them to get overextended and become frustrated.

The presentation documents indicate 140 more students took AP courses in 2012 compared to 2011 and the number of AP exams taken increased by nearly 250.

Jeremy Jakoby, testing and accountability supervisor, said a few students take five or six AP courses in one year, while many more students take that many AP courses during their high school career.

School board member Karen Harshman, a retired teacher, said she used to have students approach her about opting out of AP courses they were already signed up for because the students felt they weren’t ready for the more rigorous courses.

The general rule is that students have the first five days of classes to withdraw from a course, though there’s some flexibility on a case-by-case basis, Akers said.

After the school board meeting he gave an example of educators encouraging a student to take AP courses because the student’s PSAT score indicated the student could handle it. If the student reluctantly gives it a try and later decides AP courses are too much, then educators could be more flexible about letting the student withdrawal because they talked the student into taking the classes.

School Board President Wayne Ridenour said educators need to make sure students have a real understanding of the rigor of AP courses when students’ courses are being scheduled the prior spring.

It doesn’t matter which class a student takes, if the student transfers into a class 20 days into the course, that’s problematic for the student and for the teacher, who is responsible for that student, Ridenour said.

The number of different students taking AP courses increased to 1,173 in 2012, up from 1,033 in 2011, and 754 in 2008, and the number of AP exams taken increased to 2,148 in 2012, up from 1,869 in 2011, and 1,350 in 2008, according to presentation documents.

Students who score high enough on an AP exam could possibly earn college credit, depending on the college.

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