Students getting early start with AP courses

As the new semester begins, students in AP classes are jump-starting their college experience with new tools and study sessions. Though AP tests do not take place until the end of the semester, students across the parish can register for supplemental workshops.

The study sessions — the first of which was held this month — will run until April before testing starts. AP teachers will be on hand Feb. 16, March 16 and April 16 during the sessions to help students reach higher scores.

“This semester is very big in terms of testing, so there’s a great deal of test preparation going on,” said Patrick Deaville, director of high school curriculum and instruction for Calcasieu Parish. “All of our students in AP courses are geared toward that kind of high-level testing.”

Deaville said the AP courses are an extra benefit when taking the ACT exams in April. The school system has also set up a computerized program through library services, where students are provided with test-prep programs.

June Burke, consultant of advanced studies, said students taking AP courses have been known to be more successful in college, and there is greater chance of them graduating in four to five years. While the focus of most of these students is to get a 3, 4 or 5 on their tests to receive college credit, just the experience can help for their post-high school challenges.

“The numbers go up each year as more students are more aware of AP,” said Burke. “The program allows students to prepare for college life, making it so much easier to apply themselves and learn how to overcome challenges.”

Recently, a number of high school students who scored a 3 or higher on three or more exams, taken last year, were honored by the College Board. Over 70 students received the AP Scholar awards, with the National AP Scholar for Calcasieu Parish going to Jiating Jiang, who scored an average of 4.8 on 10 exams.

Administrative Coordinator Eva Savoy said several Calcasieu AP teachers will get in on improving in AP with a training session that will take place this summer. The teachers will first focus on grading the essays on the test, where they will be critiqued and guided to make sure educators are on the same page. Teachers will do mock readings to decide what goes into a good essay to ultimately help students do well on their tests before grading the actual AP essays.

“We don’t want each individual child to raise only their AP score, but we want them to also do well on their ACT,” Deaville said. “We have had a significant improvement in the last four years, and the number scoring a 3 or higher is just off the charts, with all the lines going up.”