Advanced Placement scores from the 2014-2015 school year are in for the Hall County School District, and the results varied vastly by subject.
School officials discussed the scores at the school board’s regular meeting Monday.
The district administered 2,239 AP tests last school year, approximately 84 tests less than the year before. The district had an average overall score of 2.3 out of 5, however, one-tenth of a point higher than the year before.
The state average for the year was 2.78.
“Overall on AP exams, we continue to have some bright spots and we continue to have some disappointments,” said Sally Krisel, Director of Innovative and Advanced Programs. “…We’re not where we want to be as we’re still just a little bit below the state average, and we’re going to continue to work on that.”
Krisel said she suspects fewer students took AP exams this year because there were more opportunities for students to dual-enroll instead.
Superintendent Will Schofield said in Hall County the potential pool of Advanced Placement students is somewhat depleted by the much larger number of students in the district’s three International Baccalaureate Diploma Programs.
“We have a lot of kids that take these exams,” he said. “We want to do better, but the trend is in the right direction.”
School board chair Nath Morris asked Krisel about the differences in pass rates by subject. Krisel said identifying the varying factors has been a great point of frustration for her, but they are looking at the various ways to “slice and dice it,” including how many veteran teachers are instructing the courses.
“But I know good, hardworking teachers that are getting poor results,” Krisel said. “And my job is to support them.”
AP Spanish Language and AP Macro Economics had very high pass rates, with 94 percent and 93 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, the district’s AP Calculus pass rate was 19 percent and the AP Statistics pass rate was 8 percent.
School board member Bill Thompson said he suspects part of the problem with exam results is due to the number of students who do not wish to take the exam at the end of the year.
“We have a lot of kids who’ve already been accepted to college before they take these tests, and a lot of them it does not mean a thing to,” he said. “…Something I feel very strongly about is not making the kids take these tests that don’t want to.”
Thompson said the district spends thousands to pay for students to take these courses, and the test is not a priority to some.
Schofield said Thompson’s concern is “certainly a point worth considering.”
Morris suggested the district look at what the schools with the highest participation and pass rate are doing.
“It’s not fair to those teachers when those kids write their names on that test and turn it over or Christmas tree it,” Thompson said.
Thompson added he in no way wished to diminish the district’s efforts to help students succeed in Advanced Placement courses.
Fellow school board member Sam Chapman agreed and said he’s pleased with the overall improvement in the scores.
“We’ve come a long way and I appreciate it,” he said.