Two Bulloch County public schools were among those recognized by the state this week for their Advanced Placement exam results.
Statesboro High School picked up two honors, being named an AP STEM School and AP Access and Support School.
AP STEM Schools have students testing in at least two AP math courses and two AP science courses. STEM is a commonly used acronym these days in education circles, and it stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics.”
AP Access and Support Schools are those in which at least 30 percent of AP exams are taken by students identifying as African-American and/or Hispanic, and in which 30 percent of all AP exams score 3 or higher. (AP exams are scored on a 5-point scale; 3 is generally high enough to receive college course credit at many postsecondary institutions.)
Southeast Bulloch High School was named an AP Challenge School. These are schools with 900 or fewer students with students testing in four of the core areas – English, math, science and social studies.
Among Bulloch County students in the Class of 2013, 207 took AP exams, compared to 192 members of the 2012 graduating class, according to data released by the school system last week. But fewer of the 2013 graduates, 89, scored 3 or higher, compared to 95 in the 2012 class. The pass rate fell from 49.5 percent among 2012 graduates to 43 percent in the 2013 class.
As with SAT and ACT tests, students can take AP exams anytime during their high school years, which is why the College Board, which operates the AP program, releases the figures by graduating class.
“The trend that we are seeing with our current delivery does not indicate acceptable levels of success and preparation for our students,” Bulloch County Schools Superintendent Charles Wilson said. “Ensuring that our students are college and career ready is a key topic of our upcoming Speak Up for Education event (tonight). We would value community input as we evaluate what we currently offer our students, why and how we offer it, and come up with more intentional and relevant solutions.”
At Statesboro High, 127 students took AP exams in the 2013 class, up from 104 among 2012 graduates. But like the district overall, fewer 2013 graduates, 51, scored 3 or higher, compared to 52 in the 2012 class, dropping the passing percentage from 50 percent to 40.2 percent.
SEB High bucked the trend because fewer students took the exam and fewer passed. The Class of 2012 saw 42 students score 3 or higher out of 87 who took AP exams, for a 48.3 percent pass rate. In the class of 2013, 37 students scored 3 or higher out of 77 who took the exams, for a 48.1 percent pass rate.
Portal Middle High School’s numbers are too small to form reliable trends. For example, in 2012, one student took an AP exam and passed for a 100 percent pass rate. But in the 2013 class, three students took exams and only one passed, for a 33.3 percent pass rate.
In Georgia, more students took AP exams in the 2013 class and more passed than in the 2012 class, but the pass rate dropped from 56.6 percent in 2012 to 55.4 percent in 2013. The nation showed a similar trend, with more students taking and passing AP exams in 2013, but with the pass rate falling from 61.5 percent in 2012 to 60.9 percent in 2013.
It should be noted that the College Board’s state and national results include public, private and home-schooled students. Private school students tend to score higher on AP exams than do their public school counterparts.
Wilson said Bulloch County’s lower pass rate shows that the district and its schools have more work to do in preparing students for college and careers after high school.
“When it comes to our students, relevant and rigorous academic preparation is the fixed component of this equation; everything else has to be a variable,” he said. “That is what has to happen and that is what we are evaluating and for which we are creating plans. Community and parental support for these necessary changes is what will make this school system successful in that effort.”
Jason Wermers may be reached at (912) 489-9431.
NOTE: Bulloch Academy’s Advanced Placement exam results for the class of 2013 weren’t available Wednesday. Check statesboroherald.com Thursday for an updated chart accompanying this story with BA’s results.