AP testing loses favor as area high schools opt for dual enrollment, post-secondary option

Last updated: February 19. 2014 6:54PM - 1531 Views
By William Laney wlaney@civitasmedia.com

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LIMA — A few area high schools trimmed or eliminated their Advanced Placement offerings to have their students concentrate more on dual enrollment and post-secondary options, bucking a national trend of more students taking the $89 test for college credit.

Lima Senior High School, Lima Central Catholic and Memorial High School in St. Marys opted to end their AP courses and shift to offering dual enrollment or post-secondary options for their students in an effort to better ensure students earn college credits than by having to take an end of the year test in the subject area. Wapakoneta High School continues to offer AP courses and the college options.

Lima Senior Principal Doug Kent said the AP courses were eliminated about five years ago as part of a shift to dual enrollment, where high school teachers are certified to teach a certain subject area by a university using one of their college's syllabuses and grading criteria.

“We changed to dual enrollment because we thought we could service more of our population that way,” Kent said, giving a list of courses evolving to include English, history, math and science. “The students still get high school credit and they also can pay for the college credit at a substantially reduced rate. It is a huge savings to the parents.

“The only way we will allow a dual enrollment class into our building is if they are transferable credits,” he said. “We always look every year at Findlay and other universities in the area to see what we can bring in, and we are always looking to bring in more.”

Lima Senior currently has an arrangement with the University of Findlay. The school district has a post-secondary option agreement with Rhodes State College for their students involved in DECA, which is a student business organization.

LCC also no longer offers AP courses, but students can still take AP tests. The school has also opted to offer students dual enrollment.

“We are working to beef up our 'College on Campus' program, and we are trying to have more course offerings because our graduate students said for the most part those credits transfer very easily,” guidance counselor Stephanie Williams said. “We have had some recent graduates who came back and said how appreciative they were of the 'College on Campus' experience.”

She said many students even enter college with sophomore standing. LCC has a post-secondary option through Rhodes State College and dual enrollment through Tiffin, Bluffton and Ohio Northern universities. Courses of study include sciences, business, math, English and music.

In St. Marys, Memorial High School Principal Bill Ruane said the school has not offered AP classes the past three years, although they had one student take an AP test in 2013. No students have registered to take any tests this year.

Guidance counselor Deb Hinckley said they eliminated AP courses because the students were not guaranteed college credit by taking the test but they were if they passed the courses offered through dual enrollment or post-secondary options.

Wapakoneta High School guidance counselor DeLynn Epperly said she sees benefits for students taking either the AP test or taking advantage of dual enrollment. The school currently offers five AP classes and she estimates about 75 students take AP tests.

She said she believes the number has risen only slightly in the past 10 years, far less than a report which showed the number of U.S. students taking AP classes has nearly doubled in the last decade with the class of 2013 taking 3.2 million AP exams. Students can earn college credit in 34 different subjects by taking a test at the end of the school year. The test is scored on a scale of 1 to 5 with college credit awarded for a score of 3 or above.

Epperly said she has “great confidence” in students who get a 4 or 5 on the test being able to handle the rigors of a college education.

“We have a lot more doing dual enrollment,” Epperly said, noting they have four classes including English and chemistry through Urbana University and physics and biology through Wright State University. “I think since we first started offering dual enrollment those numbers have remained fairly consistent, too.”

She agrees with the philosophy that a student is more likely to earn college credit with dual enrollment, but there is drawback in the amount of time devoted to cover the material.

“You are taking a college class and stretching it out over the entire length of the year and you have this catch system called teachers and ProgressBook,” Epperly said. “With dual enrollment, they still know the material but it is taught in a way that is not necessarily like they would experience in college because we teach it over 36 weeks instead of 15 weeks.”

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