When New Richmond Exempted Village School District Superintendent Adam Bird approached Mark Bailey about becoming principal at the high school, one of the first subjects on the agenda was improving the school’s advanced placement course test scores.
Bird got the results he wanted this year as 65 New Richmond High School students scored 3 or higher on the 2013 Advanced Placement tests to become eligible for college credit that could save them anywhere from $80,000 to $115,000 in tuition charges based on semester hour charges at local universities. Eleven students scored a 5, 24 earned a 4 and 30 earned a 3 (which is the cutoff for many colleges for AP credit), an improvement of 23 percent over 2012.
“Mark and his NRHS staff are to be commended for the way they made it a priority and made it happen,” Bird told the New Richmond Board of Education. “The tremendous jump in AP results is a testament to the hard work of the students, staff, and administration at NRHS.”
“Our staff’s dedication and hard work has resulted in the highest percentage of passing scores on the AP test since NRHS started keeping records of the results!” Bailey said. “The national average for scores of 3 or above is around 52 percent, and I sincerely hope that everyone feels a great sense of accomplishment from this past year . . . improved OGT results and improvement in AP test results!”
Overall, seven of 11 students taking the biology AP test passed with 3 or higher, 13 of 15 passed their Literature & Composition test, 19 of 25 students passed the Human Geography test (six with scores of 5), 10 of 15 students passed U.S. Government test and 11 students passed the Chemistry test (compared to only two in 2012).
Bailey made professional development and updated classroom supplies – from text books to pigs for dissecting – for AP classes a priority.
“They made improving AP results a building focus and backed that up with professional development and budgetary support,” noted Bird.
“We had new, up-to-date textbooks and we had two sections this year so class size was smaller,” said human geography teacher Bill Harris. “But the number one reason we did so well (56 percent got 4s and 5s, 76 percent passed average score was 3.5) was that these kids worked their tails off!
“Over the years I’ve given more and more work and this year’s group rarely complained. This was best group I’ve ever had for asking questions. They made sure they understood concepts rather than being content to rattle off definitions and theories.”
Harris’ experience as an AP geography reader in 2012 also helped with the improved scores.
“Having graded AP exams the year before I had a much better plan for teaching how to break down the essays and maximize scores,” said Harris.
AP biology teacher Joe Moorehead and AP Literature and Composition teacher Nicole Parker echoed Harris’ views about student effort paying off.
“An AP class presents many challenges, but the biggest challenge at times is getting your students to believe in themselves,” said Moorehead. “Believing that they know the material and they are becoming experts in their subject with practice and patience.”
“I am thrilled with the performance of my students on the AP English exam this year. I enjoyed teaching this group so much, and I am pleased to know that so many of them have earned college credit for the course by scoring well on the exam,” said Parker. “They are a talented group of people, and they really worked hard. It is wonderful to see them earn this reward for their efforts.”
Two New Richmond students passed AP exams without taking the AP course.
“Juliane Molitor got a 4 in AP German without taking an AP German course,” noted Harris. “I know her mother is German, but how many English speaking students could get a 4 on the English Language and Composition exam.”
Even more impressive to Harris was Courtney Roberts who got a 5 on the Psychology AP exam and a 3 in European history.
“Not only did she not take AP courses in those subjects, she didn’t even take Psychology or Western Civilization, the 2 related college-prep courses,” said Harris.