2013-12-20 / Front Page

College Board recognizes high school AP program

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK —Kennebunk High School in Regional School Unit 21 was recently chosen by the College Board as one of 477 schools in the U.S. and Canada as an Advanced Placement Honor Roll School.

The award is attributed to the increasing student enrollment in AP courses at the high school while students maintain a score of 3 or higher on AP exams.

Since 2011 the number of students enrolled in AP courses has increased by 16 percent. Simultaneously, 70 percent of those students who then take the culminating AP exam scoreda3orhigher—thescoringrangeis1through5.

AP courses at Kennebunk High School are offered in the following subjects: statistics, biology, calculus AB and BC, chemistry, computer science, English language, English literature, European history, U.S. history, and U.S. government and politics.

After the award was presented, Kennebunk High School Principal Sue Cressey told the school board Monday, Dec. 2, “We firmly believe in training all of our teachers so that all students benefit from the skills that the teachers are teaching them. This (award) is evidence that this can happen.”

In recent years the high school has not only increased enrollment in AP courses, but in International Baccalaureate courses as well. Cressey presented rising statistics to the school board earlier this year as evidence that the more challenging and increasingly popular tiers of course work should be funded by the school budget and not by parents and families.

During the 2013-2014 school year AP and I.B. courses are being offered to students at no additional cost.

Students are encouraged to mix and match their college prep, AP and I.B. courses, if they so desire.

Senior Ashley Huston has only taken one AP course in her time at Kennebunk High School — AP Statistics — something she feels satisfied with.

“There’s a high probability of taking AP stats in college,” said Huston. Rather than take up more expensive college credit hours with an introduction class as a freshman, she decided to take the collegelevel course in high school. “Whether I get college credit for it depends on what grade I get on the exam and which school I go to,” Huston said. But that is a risk she is willing to take. “It really helps the whole school. A lot of the AP teachers also teach C.P. classes and they are just as hard,” a goal that Cressey and other faculty have purposefully sought in recent years.

In a press release distributed by the College Board, Cressey said, “All students benefit because teachers who have been trained to teach AP, for example, also teach other classes and incorporate the higherlevel thinking skills into those courses.”

“Our philosophy is to maintain high standards and provide assistance to help students reach those high standards,” Cressey said.

AP courses, said Huston, move at a noticeably faster pace. “We take more tests as opposed to them being more spaced out, we have more responsibility when it comes to taking notes. Things are talked about only once, so if you miss a class it’s up to you to get the information, like in college,” Huston said.

Senior Ryan Keefe admits he has tried to take as many AP courses as he can. Currently enrolled in his ninth AP course, Keefe said that he prefers AP courses to I.B. because the curriculum turnover is quicker: I.B. classes tend to last two years while AP courses typically last one year. “I can fit more classes in and take more tests and get more credits,” Keefe said.

“I.B. courses tend to be more selfdirected,” said Jack Parent, a junior. “AP courses have more material, are fasterpaced and are mostly a lot more in-depth.”

“I’m proud of how all teachers have incorporated these methods into classes— some classes might be slower-paced, but all students, in the end, are prepared for college,” Cressey said.

“It’s not a numbers game,” Cressey said. “The thing I’m most proud of is that all of our students have had an early college experience; when they go on, they’re ready.”

Kennebunk High School graduates are not only being accepted into higher institutions, said Cressey, they’re not dropping out, a factor that Cressey believes to be the most important accolade. “It is hard work in the dark days of winter,” Cressey said as she motioned to students walking through snow between buildings after a class period ended. “It takes a lot of effort. What we do is try to help them find the best balance.”

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