Students in the Carroll Independent School District are taking greater numbers of Advanced Placement (AP) exams, taking AP classes and exams earlier, increasing overall achievement, and posting higher scores on the AP exams than ever before.
According to the Teaching & Learning Services Department, the total number of exams administered to Carroll students in grades 9-12 in 2010 was 1,277. While the number of students participating in the program was slightly lower than the previous year, the overall number of students scoring a 3 or higher on the exam(s) increased significantly giving Carroll ISD an overall average of 84 percent. Based upon mean scores, Carroll students ranked significantly higher than the National average of 2.84, by posting an average AP score of 3.73.
Out of the 31 exams offered through College Board, Carroll students participated in 26 of those exams. Some of the high volume exams included: US History, English Language, English Literature, US Government, Calculus AB, Biology, World History, and Macroeconomics. Subjects in which students made the largest gains, scoring three or higher, were: Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Chemistry, Macroeconomics, English Language, Environmental Science, European History, Spanish Language, Statistics, US History, and World History.
According to College Board, the AP program benefits students because success on AP exams is a strong predictor of a student’s ability to persist in college and earn a bachelor’s degree within a four-year time period or less. Of students who have taken two or more AP courses, 61 percent are completing their bachelor’s degrees in four years or less. Only 29 percent of students who enroll in college without having taken AP courses are completing their bachelor’s degrees on schedule.
Taking an AP course offers students a unique learning experience. Not only are these courses taught by some of the most skilled, dedicated, and inspiring teachers, but these teachers work hard to create an atmosphere that allows students to change the way they think. The focus in the AP classroom is not centered around memorizing facts and figures, but on engaging students in intense discussions, solving problems collaboratively, and learning to write well.
CISD is committed to creating a pathway to AP success, says Gina Peddy, Carroll’s Advanced Academics Curriculum Coordinator. “Our teachers are committed to creating an environment of academic rigor with high expectations for all; encouraging an all-encompassing commitment to learning; and ensuring challenging and engaging teaching and learning experiences for all students.”
Peddy said the Teaching and Learning Services Department, which is highly focused on curriculum and instruction, is also committed to creating a pathway to AP success. The staff is working with the AP teachers to align the curriculum, develop common assessments, develop strong writing skills in all courses and for all students, and offering teachers as much professional development as possible. This department is also focusing on the data received from Carroll’s most recent AP scores in order to develop systems and structures to support students and teachers.
“The Teaching and Learning Services Department will be systemically using data to drive decisions, develop relationships, and analyze performance,” Peddy added.
One of the goals of CISD is to create the perfect curriculum pathway that will lead and prepare more students to take AP courses as well as the AP exam. While the number of students taking an AP exam dropped slightly this year, the Teaching and Learning Services Department is working with both Carroll High School and Carroll Senior High School teachers to help more students succeed in rigorous course work and develop content knowledge and critical thinking skills to ensure student success in college.