Published in the November 22, 2016 edition
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams continues to climb and students continue to perform well on the tests.
The AP program provides students with the opportunity to take rigorous college-level courses while still in high school. The AP program also gives students an opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement or both if students excel on AP exams.
“We are real happy with our performance,” said High School Principal Bob Cleary during last week’s School Committee meeting.
AP exams are graded on a 5-4-3-2-1 numeric scale, with 5 being the highest and 1 being the lowest. Generally, scores of 3 or above will result in advanced standing or college credit for incoming freshmen. Scores of 1 and 2 do not merit college placement. According to College Board, many colleges and universities grant credit and placement for scores of 3, 4 and 5 but each college ultimately determines which scores it will accept.
The high school’s participation rate continued skyrocketing last year, as 327 AP tests were administered. In 2015, there were 291 AP tests administered.
“It’s a giant jump in our participation,” said Cleary. “We have been able to increase our numbers but we are still performing very well. We have been working on being inclusive and having kids challenge themselves. We would like to see our participation rate continue to improve.”
Cleary said the high school had 25 AP Scholars, who are students who scored 3 or higher on three or more exams. The high school had 10 AP Scholars with Honor, who are students who scored 3.25 on all AP exams taken and scores of 3 or higher on four or more exams. He said 23 students were named AP Scholars with Distinction, which recognizes students who receive an average score of 3.5 or better on allAP exams taken and scores of 3 or higher on five or more exams.
“Our kids are not only consistently taking these tests, but they are scoring well,” said Cleary.
Breakdown of results
The average AP Biology score is 3.00, which is lower than the 2015 average of 3.38. The average biology score surpassed the national average biology score of 2.85. There were 31 LHS students who took the AP Biology exam, representing an increase of 15 students from 2015.
According to the data, the average AP Calculus AB score is 4.95, which surpassed 2015’s average of 4.78. The national average AP Calculus AB score is 2.96. There were 19 students who took the AP Calculus AB exam, which were eight fewer students than 2015.
The average AP Chemistry score is 3.07, which surpassed the 2015 average of 2.70. The national average for the chemistry exam is 2.69. There were 14 students who took the AP Chemistry exam, representing a decrease of six students.
Cleary commended chemistry teacher Karyn O’Neill for helping boost student achievement on the AP Chemistry exam.
“We have seen some constant improvement the past couple of years,” said Cleary. “We are real happy to see that.”
The average AP English Language and Composition score is 3.46, which is less than 2015’s average of 3.85. The national average score on the AP English Language and Composition exam is 2.82. There were 35 students who took the AP English Language and Composition exam, which were five fewer students than 2015.
The data revealed the average AP English Literature and Composition score is 3.65, which is less than 2015’s average of 3.74. The national average for the AP English Literature and Composition exam is 2.75. There were 34 students who took the AP English Literature and Composition exam, representing an increase of seven students.
The average AP Microeconomics exam score is 3.60, which is less than the 2015 average of 4.06. The national average for the microeconomics exam is 3.11. There were 15 students who took the AP Microeconomics exam, which were three fewer students than 2015.
According to the data, the average AP Physics exam score is 3.17, which is less than the 2015 average of 3.82. The national average for the physics exam is 3.60. There were 30 students who took the AP Physics exam, representing an increase of eight students.
The average AP Psychology exam score was 3.00, representing a slight dip than the 2015 average of 3.41. The national average for the psychology exam is 3.07. There were 79 students who took the AP Psychology exam, representing an increase of 16 students.
Guidance Department Head Mike Moresco noted there are currently over 100 seniors enrolled in AP Psychology classes this year.
According to the data, the average AP Statistics exam score is 4.00, which is the same score as last year. The national average for the statistics exam is 2.88. There were 20 students who took the AP Statistics exam, which were 10 more students than 2015.
The average AP U.S. History exam score is 3.84, which is higher than the 2015 average of 3.81. The national average for the U.S. History exam is 2.70. There were 50 students who took the AP U.S. History exam, which represented an increase of two students from the previous year.
School Committee Vice Chairwoman Dorothy Presser inquired if the high school has any data on the number of students who received college credit after taking AP exams and scoring a 3 or higher.
Moresco said “the number of colleges that are granting AP credit for AP scores is dwindling.”
“We are seeing fewer private colleges offer any kind of tuition break or credit break,” said Moresco. “For those schools, it’s the expectation of the challenge that they are looking for.”
“Some schools give credit and others will not,” said Cleary.
School Committee Chairman Tim Doyle inquired if the high school is looking at adding more AP classes.
Cleary said the high school is open to expanding its AP course offerings such as AP art, but noted “there are not a lot of other AP courses out there that we don’t already offer.”
“We are open to being flexible so we can give our kids opportunities,” said Cleary.
Cleary informed the Villager in an email the high school is offering AP Computer Science and AP Spanish this year in addition to the 10 classes offered last year.
In response to a question from Doyle about AP classes offered through Virtual High School (VHS), Cleary said VHS does offer AP classes but the high school has received “mixed reviews” about those courses.
“We have had a couple of kids try it in the past,” said Cleary. “But it’s an AP class and its not that easy to do without somebody there in the classroom trying to help you out.”