Advanced placement courses at Monett High School offer students a recognized way to demonstrate high achievement.
Each year students take AP tests that allow their achievement to be compared to other students around the nation. Principal David Steward reported to the Monett R-1 Board of Education in August that results from AP testing showed Monett to be in the lead in AP testing in southwest Missouri with students scoring at record levels.
AP tests are an internationally recognized exam, Steward said. Courses approved as AP classes have to be certified by a college board. Teachers, syllabuses and the resources used in the classes must also be approved. Once approved, these classes are listed in a book distributed to colleges sizing up the students applying for acceptance.
"AP classes are designed to simulate a freshman level college course," said Steward. "The more seniors that pass an AP exam, the better prepared they are for college."
It is not necessary to take an AP class to take the test, Steward said, but the test is so rigorous few would try. In 2007, school officials recruited their best students to take the AP tests whether they had taken the coursework to gauge how well Monett's instruction level was. For the last three years, students taking AP classes have committed to taking the AP tests.
In 2010, 189 Monett students took the AP tests, the largest number to date, a trend that has continued seven years in a row. Steward said Monett High School has given more AP exams than any high school in southwest Missouri for the last two years. At many schools, taking AP tests are still optional.
Reaching a qualifying score on an AP exam is still a major achievement. One third of Monett students hit the mark during the past school year, the highest number on record.
The highest percentage of students passing was 39, reached in 2007 with the recruited group. The percentage of graduates passing at least one AP exam has been on the upswing for the last four years with 2010 scores slightly below the 2009 numbers.
Average scores on the AP tests have remained fairly steady over the last eight years even though the number of tests given has increased five times. The 2010 scores were slightly under the 2007 high mark.
"Having the second highest average scores with the highest number of tests given last year is a testament to what the teachers and students are doing to prepare," Steward said.
Top performance is also increasing. In the first eight years of giving AP tests in Monett, a total of seven students scored in the highest range. Last year nine students scored at the top level. The percentage of students scoring at the lower level decreased over the previous year.
"Obviously we're moving in the right direction," Steward said. "The school board looked at the charts and agreed."
At the end of August, 227 students were scheduled to take AP tests in 2011. Steward expects the number will drop a little but still expects to have a record number of tests given during the current school year.
|Steward said he is looking at ways to get more college-level opportunities for Monett students. He is exploring dual credit opportunities in areas where no AP options exist.||Plans are to implement dual credit college algebra for next year, so that if students pay the college fee, they will have a credit colleges will recognize for doing high school work. Economics and political science are other possible new dual credit options.|
"Which courses we offer will depend on what teachers get approved by the college board. We'd like to have more options at the upper levels," Steward said.