Every year students around the county, the state and the country take Advanced Placement classes. And every year, a large number of those students take the Advanced Placement exams in order to test their knowledge and earn credits that they can transfer to their college transcript at universities across the country.

At our local schools, including St. Croix Central, New Richmond and Somerset, the number of students who passed with a three or higher has increased, as well as the number of students who took AP exams.

“We are seeing a trend with the increased participation of students taking the AP exams,” said Central Superintendent Tim Widiker. “Most of the students have done pretty well over the last few years and this year was no different. Our teachers of those classes should also be commended for their efforts to help these students succeed when they take these tougher exams.”

St. Croix Central

According to Widiker, a total of 123 AP exams were taken by SCC students in a total of nine different areas/subjects, including seven courses that are taught at the school and two independent topics. Of those 123 exams taken, a total of 87 came back with a score of three or higher.

“We had a total of 25 perfect scores among the 123 tests that St. Croix Central students took,” Widiker said. “I’m really impressed with the number of tests we have kids taking since we don’t push them into taking the exams or the AP classes. The students make the choice to be challenged and I’m proud that we can offer them a good number of courses. A lot of the kids we get signing up for the AP classes heard about the classes and were interested in it from friends and their fellow classmates.”

From last year to this year, SCC saw 14 more tests come back with passing scores. That high level of students passing has also helped the school earn a Level 2 Pacesetter Award, which is awarded to schools that have a percentage of students taking the exams above 20 percent while also having 65 percent of those students/tests taken score a three or above on the exams.

“We are so darn close to reaching that Level 1 award,” Widiker said. “We just need to get a few more students taking the exams who take the classes and we will be there since we had 70.7 percent of the tests taken earn a three or higher.”

Another trend Widiker is seeing with the students who are taking AP exams is a rise in the number of freshmen taking AP classes, such as U.S. Government.

“We had 17 freshmen take AP exams, and do very well,” Widiker said. “I am extremely proud of the work of our staff and students. Even though this is a high school award, it is is a testament of the work that our staff has done in grades 4K-12.

“Our students have outstanding work ethic and are not afraid to challenge themselves with these rigorous AP courses. This award is reinforcement that we are accomplishing our vision of ‘Be a district respected by others as a model of excellence in student achievement’ and our mission of ‘To prepare our students with exceptional knowledge, character and skills to thrive in their changing world.’”

New Richmond

According to New Richmond High School Principal Tom Wissink, the NRHS students who took AP tests this year improved their scores slightly across the board, with 142 students taking 252 AP tests.

“A total of 69 students took more than one test - two students took a high of five tests - but most take two tests,” Wissink said. “We offer 12 AP classes including: English Literature and Composition, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Psychology, U.S. History, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Computer Science A, Statistics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics 2.”

For New Richmond, 77.7 percent of students (195/242) passed their tests by scoring a three or higher. Of the 69 students who took more than one test, 64 percent (44/69) passed all their tests with threes or higher, while two students scoring a five (the highest possible score) on four different tests.

“Our most popular class this year was Calculus AB, with 46 students taking the class and 43 of those students taking the exam,” Wissink said.

The one new AP course offered at the high school last year was Computer Science A, which had four students who took the test. Two of those students earned a three or higher.

“We encourage our students to push themselves and take advantage of our classes to learn and prepare more. It is also a wonderful opportunity for students to earn college credit which will advance them towards a degree and save their families’ money,” Wissink said. “We saw as slight increase in the number of students in AP courses and number of tests taken. I think it is a good thing to see students challenging themselves.”

Wissink also acknowledged the work the instructors who teach the AP courses put in every year to help the students achieve the highest scores possible on the tests.

“Our teachers work hard to stretch our students, prepare them for these exams and higher ed, and prepare students for success and happiness in life,” Wissink said. “There is always room for improvement. We strive to offer more courses, have more students challenge themselves with AP classes or many other classes we offer, and to increase the percentage of students that pass and earn college credit. It is a group effort and we have a strong foundation to continue to build on.”

Somerset

According to Somerset High School Principal Chris Moore, the number of students who scored a three or better on the AP exams increased by 22 percent from the year before, while the number of exams taken by students increased by 10 percent. Over the last five years, Somerset has seen the number of students taking the AP exams triple.