Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Johns Gets National Recognition for AP Coursework; More Students Are Taking College-Level Classes, and Doing Well

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Johns Gets National Recognition for AP Coursework; More Students Are Taking College-Level Classes, and Doing Well

Article excerpt

Byline: Marcia Lane

A successful college-level course program offered in local schools has gained the St. Johns County School District a spot in the list of top districts in the United States and Canada.

Even better, say district officials, is that while the number of students taking what are known as Advanced Placement courses is on the rise, scores also are increasing. That's not usually the case.

It's not particularly hard to increase the number of people taking the test, but "almost always there's a concordant drop in scores. That hasn't happened," said Superintendent Joe Joyner.

AP courses offer students the opportunity to study and learn at the college level and it gives them college credit if they score 3 or above.

"It's widely known as the most rigorous curriculum and test you can give at the high school level," Joyner said.

St. Johns County is one of 539 districts in the U.S. and Canada that got on the third annual AP District Honor Roll. To get on the roll, each district must show it is increasing access to AP coursework while increasing the number of students earning a level 3 or higher on AP tests, according to a news release from the College Board, a not-for-profit organization that also gives the SAT, a standardized test for college admission.

'aeMORE RIGOROUS'

"We want to keep encouraging more and more kids. It's part of the whole drive toward more rigorous curriculum ... coming with Common Core," Joyner said. Florida is among the states taking part in the Common Core Standards State Initiative, a standards-based education reform plan.

For the 2011-2012 school year, the district offered 27 of 34 courses that are part of the College Board curriculum. Courses available included calculus, chemistry, statistics and languages such as French, German, Spanish and Latin. All are taught at a college level and that includes how the teaching is done. …

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