By Terry Rogers
Over the past few years, Milford High School has seen significant growth in their Advanced Placement (AP) program. Not only has participation grown, but the school has also seen an increase in the number of students passing AP tests. The growth and success of the program were recognized by the state at the Milford School District Board of Education meeting on Monday, March 20, 2017.
“In 2012, we had 91 students in the program with a 46 percent pass rate,” Jason Peel, Director of Secondary Education, said. “Fast forward to 2017 and now the program has 171 students and a 60 percent pass rate on the AP test. The success is that we have more students taking AP courses and more achieving a passing score of three or higher. Milford has expanded access to more students, those who do not immediately show potential, and ha still achieved a high pass rate.”
College Board has recognized Milford High School as one of the top two achieving schools in the state in terms of the number of program growth. Milford currently offers 16 AP courses. Between 2015 and 2016, there has be a 45 percent increase in test takers and a 62 percent increase in the number of AP examinations administered. Students achieving a three or higher on the test has increased 38 percent. Three new AP programs were added in 2015-16, including European History, Physics I and Statistics, all with 15 or more students participating. The AP Psychology and U.S. Government and Politics programs have a more than 80 percent student participation increase. The school added Human Geography and Computer Science Principles to the AP offerings in the 2017-18 school year.
“Over the last five years, Milford has worked with a team of teachers to promote “vertical alignment” from 6th to 12th grade,” Dr. Peel said. “This process was centered on the goal of identifying students who have potential to take more challenging courses. The teachers scoured over data to find students who showed potential and then invited them to take Honors or AP courses and then put supports in place to make sure they succeeded. Through collaboration across grade levels and a belief on the part of teachers that more students could be achieving at a high level, Milford has shown tremendous growth in AP participation and scores.”
Research indicates that students who take AP courses are significantly more likely to succeed in college. When a college admissions officer sees that students have taken AP courses, they understand that the student has sought the most rigorous courses available to them. When compared to their peers, students who score a three or higher on the AP examination earn a higher GPA in college and perform as well or better in subsequent college courses in the exam subject than non-AP students who took the corresponding introductory college course. AP students take more college courses in their discipline and are more likely to graduate from college in four years. They also have higher graduation rates.
“Students are identified through a study of their data, referred by teachers and can also refer themselves,” Dr. Peel said. “While there are some minimum skills needed to succeed in AP courses, the majority of our students are eligible. If students have the desire to work hard, then our outstanding teachers can get them there.”
Starting with the 2017-18 school year, ninth grade students can enroll in the new AP Human Geography course. Students can also choose the college scholars major at Milford High School which will give them maximum access to AP courses. Most courses are taken in the junior and senior year of high school, Dr. Peel said. Recently, Milford added European History along with the Computer Science Principles and Human Geography. Students may also register for AP Courses in Biology, Calculus AB, Chemistry, English Language and Composition as well as English Literature and Composition. Other courses include Environmental Science, Physics I, Spanish Language and Culture, Statistics, Psychology, US Government and Politics and US History. A full list of AP Courses available can be found on the high school website.
One of the benefits of AP Courses is that students who score a three or higher may use the credits earned in high school toward courses they may be required to take in college. In some cases, entry-level classes can be replaced with the AP credits, depending on the college.
“This varies greatly from student to student because universities have many different policies,” Dr. Peel said. “We estimate that last year’s graduates earned over 1,000 college credits combined. The vast majority of these credits were accepted by their chosen school. The credits are definitely important but it is the AP experience that is most valuable for our students. Because of this experience, these students are well prepared for the rigors of college.”
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