WHEELING - Wheeling Park High School students are excelling in Advanced Placement courses and tests now more than ever, contributing to the steady improvement of AP participation and test scores in the Mountain State.
According to Sallie Minor, AP coordinator at WPHS, 78 percent of WPHS students who took an Advanced Placement test in the 2011-12 school year received a passing score of "3" or higher compared with 44 percent statewide and 61 percent nationwide. Statewide, the College Board's recently released figures indicate West Virginia's high school student participation in AP has grown from 9 percent in 2001 to 20.5 percent in 2011.
"It says a lot for our area," Tracy Mosca, AP English literature teacher, said. "We have just so many different offerings now, we just keep offering more. It's amazing, you can take pretty much any course now in AP."
The school's AP staff was "thrilled" to return to school with recent reports of high AP test scores and the notification that the 2012 Beacon Award, the College Board's top honor, has been awarded to the West Virginia Department of Education and its high schools for "dedication to increasing student achievement and college readiness through the AP Program."
Part of the success of West Virginia's AP Program can be attributed to the AP Success Initiative, which is in its second year. Minor said as part of the initiative, four WPHS teachers spent two days in Charleston this year to get training and bring back materials. Teachers then offer students five exam preparation sessions outside of normal class time using material gathered in their training. The program uses nationally recognized AP instructors in collaboration with AP teacher peers to increase resources for classroom success and higher AP exam scores.
"Because kids have so many more opportunities now and so many more methods in which to reach those goals, they want to get college courses out of the way while they can to focus more on what they want to do in college," Mosca said. "There's a different mindset, kids are able to absorb so much more quickly than they have in the past because of the fast pace of technology. It's great."