Westfield High School students take 1,410 Advanced Placement exams in 2015-16 school year
By Anna Skinner
Westfield High School began offering a few Advanced Placement classes in the early 2000s, and now the school is up to 29 classes.
In recent years, student participation has grown, as well. In 2012, 467 students participated in AP class. For the 2015-16 school year, 744 students took a total of 1,410 exams.
“The thing I would like to expand upon that number is we have seen tremendous growth over the last five years when it comes to the number of students participating in the AP program,” Assistant Principal Bill Naas said. “More students are participating in a rigorous academic experience. On the flip side, what also makes us happy is that our pass rate for those exams continues to stay strong.”
There is currently an 80 percent average pass rate for the AP exams. A pass is a score of three or higher on a one to five scale. Public colleges in Indiana are required to give high school students college credit for scoring a three or higher on the exam.
Previously, WHS only allowed juniors and seniors to take AP classes. Since 2014, freshman and sophomores have been able to participate in AP courses, as well. Ten percent of the freshman class has passed an AP exam and already has college credit.
“We don’t want them taking (AP courses) too early and start too strong,” AP Coordinator Carrie Larrison said. “We are really careful about not overloading them.”
Larrison said that even if a student doesn’t pass an AP exam, the experience is still beneficial.
“It does show that students perform better in college,” she said. “We love that they’re passing, but we are not so hung up on that because we see the benefit even if they only get a two (or lower) on the exam. It still shows a great deal of knowledge and learning.”
Naas and Larrison also credit the teachers with WHS’s AP success.
“Our AP teachers really put a lot of time and effort into making sure our students are best prepared for these courses and these exams,” Naas said. “I give a lot of credit to the students, of course, but the teachers have to be recognized as well because they really go above and beyond every year.”