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Advanced Placement, Dual Credit Program Growing at UCHS

~from The Sturgis News

                Union County High School Principal Evan Jackson addressed the UC Board of Education Monday night to give an update on the school’s college level courses. According to Jackson more and more students are earning college credit while they complete high school, and the student numbers in Advanced Placement (AP) classes and dual credit courses show significant increase in enrollment over the last five years.

                Students who take AP classes can earn college credit for certain subjects if they score a three or higher on the AP final exam for that course. Those who take dual credit are earning credits toward both their high school diploma and their college degree.

                UCHS offers 14 AP courses including AP studio art, English language/composition, English literature/composition, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, statistics, environmental science, biology, chemistry, physics, US History, European History, Human Geography and government and political science. Students take the classes taught by local teachers who have spent several weeks in the summer receiving AP training in these specialized courses.

                Locally, 125 students enrolled in 207 AP classes during the 2015-16 school year. That number is up significantly from the 74 AP courses that were taken by UCHS students in 2011-12 and doubled from the 2014-15 school year when students enrolled in 101 AP classes, which are highly rigorous and require a great deal of work beyond the classroom. Jackson credits the school winning an AdvancedKY grant which provides financial support for teacher materials and supplies and in some cases helps offset the students’ expenses for taking the final AP exam for the increased participant numbers and the success of the program at UCHS. Students who take the final AP exam which is scored by a board of highly qualified teachers from across the nation, are awarded a score of one to five with five indicating they are extremely qualified in the subject area; four is well qualified and three is qualified.

                In the spring of 2016, 186 AP exams were given (only 88 were given in 2015); students earned 59 qualifying scores, the most ever for UCHS; two eighth graders earned qualifying scores; 12 freshmen earned qualifying scores and three scores of five (5), the highest possible score were earned.

                Results also show that every student who took the AP Statistics exam earned a qualifying score; 16 students earned qualifying scores in human geography (2/3 of the class); nine students earned qualifying scores in calculus and for the first time in school history a student earned a qualifying score in AP Physics.

                The College Board who administers the test has also named 12 UCHS students AP Scholars. That designation is reserved for students who earned a three or higher on at least three AP exams. UCHS recorded its first AP Scholar two years ago when Chad Gahafer earned the designation; last year four local students were named AP Scholars. Three of the 12 students were named AP Scholars with Distinction which means they earned an average score of 3.5 on all AP exams taken and scores of three or higher on five or more of these exams.

                While the AP program is thriving at UCHS, so is the dual credit program which allows students to take college courses offered by accredited colleges and universities. If a student successfully completes the course he/she earns both high school and college credit. UCHS offers 14 dual credit classes including English 101/102, public speaking, college algebra, biology, the solar system, US History, general psychology, sociology, introduction to business, introduction to computers, blueprint reading for welding, shielded metal arc welding and certified nurses’s aide. 

                During the 2015-16 school year 274 students were enrolled in the dual credit program up from 181 in 2011-12 and up 34 students from the 2014-15 school year.

                Thirty-one percent of the school’s student body (200 students) completed college level courses in 2015-16. These numbers reflect non-duplicated students.

                In concluding his remarks to the board about the school’s success in AP and dual credit instruction, Jackson noted that the district’s strong partnership with Henderson Community College and the Earle C Clements Job Corps Center have certainly enhanced education at the high school He also noted that participation in the AdvanceKY grant has helped boost the AP programs and the variety of course options has also been beneficial. Support from Braves2College, the Work Seal Ethics program, parent support and the support of the Union County Public School staff and board have also been extremely beneficial.

                Jackson also said there is still room for improvement through communication and keeping every one informed of the educational opportunities the school has to offer, including more under-represented student demographic groups and seeking additional opportunities in the CTE areas.

                --information for this article was taken from a power point handout provided by school principal Evan Jackson