By Charly SHELTON
Going from high school to college can be a culture shock. Each student handles it differently; some excel and some don’t. According to some experts, the difference is college preparation. The Advanced Placement tests, which are held in May of each school year, are the culmination of year-long high school courses that do more than teach a subject to a student – they prepare that student for college by giving them a college-level workload and introducing them to the expectations that will be put upon them in their freshman year at a university.
“There is research showing that just taking the test helps prepare students for college, that they do better in college because they’re prepared for it,” said Crescenta Valley High School Associate Principal Christine Benitez.
California was recently ranked fifth in the nation for percentage of 2015 graduates who earned a score of three or higher on an AP exam during their high school career. According to a release from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, 30.2% of seniors earned a three or better on their AP exams, which is even higher than the national average of 22.4%.
“I’m so pleased that California continues to be among the national leaders in the percentage of students scoring competitively on rigorous Advanced Placement tests,” Torlakson said in the released statement. “It shows we are making great progress in our efforts to encourage students to take courses that will challenge them, give them a greater understanding of a wide variety of subject matters and help prepare them for college and 21st century careers.”
Closer to home, Crescenta Valley High School has exceeded the state average for AP test pass rate. With a national average of 22.4% and a state average of 30.2%, CVHS ranked a whopping 55.7% of 2015 graduates who scored a three or better in their high school career.
But the successes don’t stop with seniors. AP exams are currently open to 10th, 11th and 12th grade students and next year, Benitez said, there will be an AP Human Geography option for ninth grade students. The pass rate overall for all grades has been equally astounding.
Last year, Benitez said, there were 908 students who took the test and 748 of them, 82.2%, passed with a three or better on at least one exam. On average each student took more than one test, with 1,980 tests taken and 1,579 passed with a three or better. This is a huge leap considering that in 2002, only 354 students took the exams.
“We were way above California in our pass rate so if [Torlakson is] excited about California having a 30.2% pass rate last year – if California is high, we are really high,” Benitez said.