The Maryland State Superintendent of Schools touted Arundel High School as an example of the success of Advanced Placement programs, while boasting of the state’s top ranking in seniors scoring well on AP exams.
During a visit to Arundel on Wednesday, Grasmick praised school leaders and students for the increase in AP enrollment and the rise in test scores. Members of the College Board also said Arundel was a model school for how AP classes can boost the level of education across the board.
“We’re here at a school that is really functioning, and functioning well,” Grasmick said in remarks to students and staff in the school’s media center. “I want to commend the students for their dedication, because it is a rigorous requirement, and you have to put forth a lot of effort.”
AP courses are generally viewed as more rigorous than other high school classes. Many colleges offer credit for AP exam scores of “3” or better.
For the third straight year, Maryland placed first in the number of seniors scoring a “3” or better on AP exams, at 26.4 percent.
Enrollment in Advanced Placement courses at Arundel High has risen in recent years, along with exam scores. The school reported a 79 percent increase in AP enrollment from 2008 to 2011, with the number of tests administered up 136 percent since 2006. The school also said there has been an 86 percent rise in the number of students earning score of 3 or better on AP exams.
“At this school, nobody gets wasted, because the principal, the superintendent and the teachers that work here all care about what happens,” said Peter Negroni, a senior vice president with the College Board.
Anne Arundel County Schools Superintedent Kevin Maxwell said the number of AP students going on to take the exam has risen from 70 percent to 84 percent.
“That’s tremendously high, and it gives you confidence that the instruction isn’t hit or miss,” he said.
Senior Molly Sinnott, the student government president at Arundel, took 14 AP classes during her four years at the school. She was recently accepted into Yale University, and thanks to credits from AP exams, she could enter as a sophomore.
Dijon Mason, a junior, said he believed the AP classes he’s taken have prepared him well for college.
“I’ve learned that stuff is not always going to be easy,” he said. “I learned that when I go off to college, things are going to be hard, but these are ways to prepare for it.”
Tightening education budgets have forced many schools to do more with less, but Grasmick said she hopes AP classes will be retained even as school funding remains flat or declines. She said eliminating some honors and non-AP classes could allow current AP classes to remain.
“We have some teachers teaching honors classes and Advanced Placement classes … I think we have to motivate our students and give them support, and say ‘yes, you can handle this.’ We’re going to continue to promote this.”
Meanwhile, she said the state will continue to push for greater participation in AP classes by some minority students. While African-American participation in AP classes has risen in recent years, it still stands at about 10 percent, while those students make up more than 20 percent of the total student body in the state.