If high school is about preparing students for the next stage in their lives, then three high schools in Hall County are showing signs of success in getting them ready for advanced college-level work.
State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge announced Advanced Placement Stem Achievement Schools on Tuesday. The distinction highlights schools with students taking multiple college-level courses in high school and performing well on their exams.
Chestatee High School and Flowery Branch High School, both Hall County schools, and Gainesville High School of the Gainesville City Schools district were three of 87 in the state that earned that distinction.
AP classes are college-level courses administered by the College Board. Students who score high enough on the end-of-year exam may receive college credit.
Tuesday's announcement signals that students at those schools were testing in at least two AP math courses and two AP sciences, and at least 40 percent of them were earning scores of 3 out of 5.
In other words, students at the schools were not only pushing themselves to take college-level courses, but they were getting scores high enough to earn college credit, too.
In an email to The Times, Matt Cardoza, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Education, wrote this honor was "an indication that the schools are better preparing students for college because all of the AP courses (and) exams require more rigorous, college-level work."
Chip Underwood, principal at Chestatee High School, said students at his school are encouraged to take AP courses as a way to have a "tangible" success of their work in the form of college credit.
He added that Tuesday's announcement was a testament not just to the school's AP teachers, but also to the teachers from the seventh-grade level and higher who helped prepare the students.
"The underlying story is that this is a process," he said.
"You can't just put juniors and seniors in college-level courses and expect them to be successful. I think we miss the fact that ninth-grade and eighth-grade teachers prepare the students to get to that cognitive level."