AP test scores increase in district

Kevin Boozer Staff Writer

October 7, 2013

WINNSBORO — Students taking AP exams in Fairfield County improved their pass rate in 2012-13, though at the current rate less than one fourth of students enrolled in the advance placement courses earn a three or better (a passing score) in the college level coursework. While he acknowledged there is a lot of room to grow, Fairfield County School District Superintendent J.R. Green was pleased with these students’ success. The 18 percent increase exceeded the 8.7 percent increase statewide in students who earned at least a three on the exam.

Two years ago, Green said just four percent of FCHS students taking AP courses scored three or better. Now that percentage has increased to 22 percent. The district currently offers AP Language and Literature, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP History and AP Calculus.

“If you don’t set the bar high, students will not reach high,” Green said. “Students never rise to low expectations.” According to the State Department of Education, the percentage of public school-only students receiving a score of 3, 4, or 5 on AP exams increased 9.6 percent during school year 2012-13. Participation rates among public school-only students increased 9.3 percent and among all-students by 9 percent. South Carolina exceeded the national growth rates of 6.1 percent for public school-only students and 6 percent for all-students.

State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais said, “While AP scores are not an accurate indicator of school performance, the success of these individual students is a noteworthy accomplishment. The students, their parents, and their teachers deserve all the credit for these gains.”

“These courses offer students college-level rigor without the price tag of college tuition. By taking advantage of the opportunities AP exams present, students can cut future costs associated with continuing their education,” Zais said.

AP courses – and the accompanying College Board exams that demonstrate mastery of the course material – allow students to earn college credit while still in high school. The exams are graded on a scale of 1-5, with a score of 5 demonstrating the highest level of performance. Since 1984, South Carolina has paid for AP instructional materials, paid students’ test fees, and offered specialized training for teachers. Every student enrolled in an AP course is required to take the test. Students can earn college credit at most institutions of higher education with scores of 3, 4, or 5.

The five most-taken AP exams in 2012-13 were English Language and Composition, United States History, English Literature and Composition, Human Geography, and Calculus AB.

Though Green acknowledged the rigor and advantages of the AP coursework he said students now seem to prefer dual credit courses which require no end of course pass/fail exam to ensure a student earns credit. He said the district will look into more options with dual credit programming with Midlands Technical College while at the same time working to offer high quality advanced placement courses for students.