AP, IB exam results hit all-time highs at high school
By Kathryn Schiliro
The scores from Morgan County High School’s advanced program exams are in, and they’re good, according to Assistant Superintendent Debra White, who shared the results with the county Board of Education (BOE) at a meeting last Monday.
Further, the school outperformed the state in the majority of areas tested by End-of-Course Tests, she said.
Advanced Placement Exams
Last school year saw a first at Morgan County High School – the school’s first-ever National Advanced Placement (AP) Scholar, the highest honor awarded by the AP program, Lucas Greenway.
In fact, the 2011-2012 school year saw the school’s highest-ever number of AP awards to its students – 34 total, compared to the previous year’s 28. There were 29 AP Scholars (compared to 22 in 2011); one AP Scholar with Honor (compared to three in 2011); and four AP Scholars with Distinction, including Greenway who, to earn his honor of National AP Scholar, had to take at least eight AP exams and score at least a 4 on all eight tests.
While AP honors have hit an all-time high, the number of AP students at the high school has been in decline since 2011. At the program’s start at the school in 2007, there were 175 students involved; this grew to a high of 418 in 2010 and then fell to 370 in 2011 and 294 AP students last year.
According to Mark Argo, coordinator of advanced programs at MCHS (i.e. AP and IB), the opportunity for dual enrollment diminished the number of students participating in AP classes.
The number of AP exams administered at MCHS followed suit, with a high of 598 AP exams given in 2010; 562 exams administered in 2011; and 423 in 2012. However, the percentage of AP students earning a 3 or better on their exams – AP exams are scored from 1 to 5, five being the highest – didn’t hit an all-time high until last year, with 35.9 percent of AP students scoring a 3 or better on their exams. And that percentage has been in steady increase since the inception of the program in 2007, despite the fluctuation in student participation.
International Baccalaureate Exams
As far as the high school’s other advanced program, the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, numbers there hit all-time highs across the board last year.
IB exams are scored on a seven-point scale, seven being the highest, and most post-secondary institutions will only consider a 4 or higher for course credit.
In 2012, 129 of the 203 IB exams given scored a 4 or higher; so, 63.6 percent of IB examinees at the school scored at least a 4. This shows a great increase, especially compared to the previous year’s 44.4 percent of students getting a 4 or better on their IB exams; in 2011, a total of 189 IB exams were administered at the school.
At present, there are17 IB-qualified teachers at the school teaching two to three IB classes daily; there are 23 juniors and 29 seniors who are IB Diploma candidates, Argo said. Although, students can take IB classes but choose not to be in the running for an IB Diploma.
Further, about 30 percent of high school students take part in an advanced program at the high school.
“There’s a cost to everything we do,” Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett told the BOE, referring to the other 70 percent of students who don’t take part in advanced programs. “Is the community going to support that cost?”
End-of-Course Test (EOCTs) are given for Ninth Grade Literature, American Literature, Biology, Physical Science, Math I, Math II, U.S. History and Economics. An aside, passing EOCTs in one content area is oftentimes sufficient for exempting the Georgia High School Graduation Test (GHSGT) in that content area (the GHSGT is a five-subject, state-mandated test given annually to juniors; with the implementation of Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, the GHSGT is on its way to being phased out).
In 2012, MCHS outperformed the state in all areas save for American Literature – 80 percent of MCHS students passed their EOCT compared to 89 percent of Georgia students – U.S. History – 62 percent of MCHS passed compared to 68 percent of Georgia students – and Economics – 53 percent of MCHS students passed compared to 74 percent of Georgia students.
Additionally, last year MCHS students outperformed 2011 school scores in the areas of American Literature, Biology, Physical Science and Math II. U.S. History EOCT results remained stagnant with a 62-percent passing rate in 2011 and 2012.
In 2012, MCHS students fared worse on the Ninth Grade Literature EOCT – 92 percent passing in 2011 vs. 85 percent passing in 2012 – Math I – 68 percent passing in 2011 vs. 66 percent in 2012 – and Economics – 64 percent passing in 2011 vs. 54 percent in 2012.
Over the past three years, the greatest improvement as far as MCHS’s EOCT scores has come in Physical Science, the percentage of students passing increasing 53 percent since the 2009-2010 school year.
“The areas we know we have work to do are U.S. History and Economics,” White said, as those EOCT scores have been below state averages for the past three years.
Printed in the August 23, 2012 edition