Battle Ground gives students more opportunity to earn college credit

posted Mar 24, 2016, 3:42 PM by Rita Sanders   [ updated Mar 25, 2016, 11:25 AM ]

Battle Ground gives students more opportunity to earn college credit

March 24, 2016

Battle Ground Public Schools made the honor roll! That is, the College Board's AP Honor Roll, which recognizes school districts across the country that increase access to advanced placement coursework and the percentage of students who earn an AP exam score that gets them college credit from many institutions of higher learning. Battle Ground is one of 10 Washington school districts that made the national list.

In 2015, students in Battle Ground Public Schools took 435 AP exams, compared to 385 exams in 2014. Students scored a 3 or higher on 280 of those exams in 2015, and on 228 of the previous year's exams. The majority of colleges and universities award college credit for subjects to students who earn a 4 or 5 on the AP exam.

At Prairie High School, students took 50 more exams in 2015 than they did the previous year. AP teachers at PHS have made it a priority to increase student enrollment in AP classes and encourage students to take the corresponding exam, and are offering families an opportunity next week to learn more about AP courses and exams available at Prairie. Students and their families can attend an AP night at the high school from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29 to learn more about the benefits of taking AP classes and exams.

Patty Alway, who teaches AP U.S. history at PHS, is an advocate for AP classes. AP classes are a great option for students who want to have a traditional high school experience and earn college credit, she said. Students benefit from taking AP courses in that not only do they get a college curricula that is approved by the College Board, but students also learn valuable skills on how to take a college course. As part of her U.S. history AP class, for example, Alway supports students with strategies for taking notes, reading college texts, and preparing for college exams. "There is a lot of skill-building scaffold going on," Alway said. "We are teaching high school students how to be college students. AP classes are as much about skill building as they are about content building."

Too, AP classes are not just for college-bound students, said Kevin Baker, who teaches AP government and politics at Prairie. "If we offer an AP class in a subject that a student is interested in, then the student should take that class and dig into it," Baker said.

College Board offers AP exams in 37 subjects. The most popular AP exams that kids sit for in Washington include English language and composition, U.S. history, calculus, U.S. government and politics, biology, statistics, psychology, and chemistry. At Battle Ground High School this year, students fill 256 seats in AP classes.  At Prairie, students fill 270 seats. Students can take AP courses in a variety of subjects, from statistics and U.S. history to environmental science and psychology. While most AP classes target junior and senior students, next year's sophomores will be able to take AP world history.

Research shows that students who take advanced placement coursework are more likely to earn college degrees on time, according to the College Board.

Students take AP tests in May and receive scores on a scale from 1 to 5. Washington’s participation rate continues to rise, along with the number of students who pass the exams with at least a 3. In 2015, Washington ranked 15th in the nation for the number of 12th graders (22.6 percent) who scored a 3 or higher on AP exams.