Students use credit-based programs

Published 12:04am Thursday, September 27, 2012

Local students are among the local high school students leading the nation in college prep, through Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment.

Andalusia City Schools and Opp City Schools offer opportunities for students to take AP courses through ACCESS, but do not offer onsite AP courses.

ACCESS learning offers distance learning to Alabama High School students.

Thirteen ACCESS AP web-based courses are available for students who wish to take these classes and those courses include art history, biology, calculus AB, chemistry, computer science A, English language and composition, English literature and composition, macroeconomics, psychology, Spanish, statistics, United States History and U.S. government and politics.

Alabama currently ranks No.1 in AP growth and improvement.

In the past years, the state has seen a 318 percent increase in AP participation and a 102 percent increase in AP qualifying scores.

Some 64 high schools throughout the state participate.

Andalusia City Schools Superintendent Ted Watson said the system used to offer in-house AP courses, but funding issues have since cut those out.

“In the situations where you don’t have the ability to offer extra classes, we can use ACCESS learning, if we have students interested in AP,” he said.

In Opp, there are currently 14 students enrolled in AP courses ranging from English composition to U.S. history and psychology, Superintendent Michael Smithart said.

“We have offered AP courses each year through ACCESS,” he said. “We just made it a point of emphasis this year, and we can see the benefit of that.”

Smithart said school officials are currently working with the group A+ to provide professional development and support for OCS teachers to help them train to teach AP courses onsite.

“Once this process is complete, we can offer onsite, AP courses in every core subject area,” he said. “We feel this initiative will place OHS in the forefront for college readiness. Coupled with our dual-enrollment vocational program with LBW-MacArthur, we will be able to provide specific college and career programs of study for our high school students.”

Where ACS may seem to lack in AP, parents shouldn’t worry that their children don’t have opportunities to gain college credit and prepare for college, officials said.

“Dual enrollment offers students the opportunity to get course credit in high school and in college,” Watson said. “And when they are finished with the class, they get credit, and where with AP, they still have to take a test to get the credit for it. To me, it makes better sense for them to take dual enrollment courses through our local community college.”

An AP course is college level class offered to high school students.  When students complete the class, they take a special exam.  The grading scale for the exam is one through five, and success on a AP exam is defined as a grade of three or higher.

Most colleges and universities grant college credit for advanced placement, a cost-savings for the family and student, who can earn college credit while in high school.

Watson described the dual enrollment programs to be a lot more diverse.

“We have kids that take everything from dance to algebra,” he said. “We offer English 101 and 102 and anatomy on campus. Students also have the opportunity to leave campus and take other classes at LBWCC.”

Smithart said that Opp has 13 students enrolled in dual enrollment English; eight in dual-enrollment biology; 21 in various vocational programs and eight students in the aviation program offered at the airport.

The specific number of Andalusia High School students enrolled in either program was not available when the Star-News went to press.

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