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School officials not satisfied with AP scores

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The Chief Academic Officer for Clayton County Schools, Kay Sledge, said more rigor is needed to improve the district's Advanced Placement (AP) exam scores.

Only 13 percent of Clayton County students, who took Advanced Placement (AP) exams during the 2007-08 school year, earned high enough scores to receive college credit for their work, according to school system data.

Clayton County's AP-test passing rate is 3.4 percentage points below the state's pass rate.

Last year, passing scores were earned on 158 of the 1,218 AP exams taken in the County, which translates to a 12.9 percent passing rate. Sledge said those numbers need to improve.

"We would certainly like to have [those] numbers go up, and we want them to go up by a significant amount," she said.

Advanced Placement courses are designed to be on the same level as a college course in the same subject. Students who take AP courses must earn a score of 3 or higher on the exam, in order to pass the course and earn college credit for it.

According to the web site of the College Board -- the organization that is responsible for AP exams and the Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT -- 5 is the highest score a pupil can earn on an AP exam. A score of 3 is the equivalent of a grade which falls in the C to B-minus range.

The Clayton School System provides AP courses in 18 subject areas, although not all of the high schools offer all of those classes.

Sledge said AP teachers are undergoing professional development to better prepare them to teach AP courses, and the curriculum has been made more rigorous, so students will be ready to take the AP exams.

In Georgia, 16.3 percent of high school seniors got a score of 3 or above, on the exams, the College Board reported this week. Nationwide, 15.2 percent of seniors met the same mark.

The state's percentage of seniors passing AP exams ranked 15th in the nation, not far behind fellow southeastern states, Florida and North Carolina, according to the College Board's data.

"Georgia is a national leader in AP participation and success," said Sate School Superintendent Kathy Cox. "More Georgia students than ever are challenging themselves with AP's rigorous course work, and are successfully mastering the material and passing the exams."

"I commend Georgia's AP students and teachers for their hard work and diligence in keeping Georgia globally competitive," said Gov. Sonny Perdue, in a written statement. "By continuing to set high goals, Georgia's students will be best prepared to enter tomorrow's workforce and help build a stronger Georgia."

Here is how Clayton schools did on AP exams in 2007-08:

· Forest Park High School: 135 AP exams were administered, and 16 grades (11.8 percent) of 3 or higher were earned.

· Jonesboro High School: 77 exams were taken, with five grades (6.5 percent) of 3 or higher.

· Lovejoy High School: 175 exams were taken, with 17 grades (9.7 percent) of 3 or higher.

· Morrow High School: 331 exams were taken, with 62 grades (18.7 percent) of 3 or higher.

· Mundy's Mill High School: 101 exams were taken, with 29 grades (28.7 percent) of 3 or higher.

· Mt. Zion High School: 183 exams were taken, with 13 grades (7.1 percent) of 3 or higher.

· North Clayton High School: 86 exams were taken, with 11 grades (12.8 percent) of 3 or higher.

· Riverdale High School: 130 exams were taken, with 5 grades (3.8 percent) of 3 or higher.