Two-thirds of AP students in Oldham Co. pass exams

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By Tracy Harris

Oldham County students passed more than 1,500 advanced placement exams in 2012, making them eligible to earn college credit before graduating high school.

Students passed two-thirds of the 2,287 tests issued with a 3 or higher on the AP exams’ five-point scale.

Most Kentucky public universities will accept a 3 or better for college credit.

AP courses are offered at all three Oldham high schools — 25 different courses, from English to studio art, provide options for students to take more challenging classes, said Dave Marshall, the district’s secondary-level academic director.

“Without a strong AP program our students will lag behind,” Marshall said. “AP scores show how our top students are performing compared with top students across the country.”

Certified teachers lead AP classes, which culminate in an optional exam in the spring. 

Students must pay to take the exam, at about $85 each, to receive college credit.

However, Marshall noted students who take two or more AP classes, regardless of the exam, are twice as likely to graduate college in four years.

About 29 percent of students who took no AP classes graduate in four years, he said — but that rate jumps to 61 percent for students who took two or more AP classes.

School board chair Joyce Fletcher said the district made enrolling more students in AP classes a priority.

“We have made this a focus for several years,” she said. “The proof is in the pudding.”

North Oldham High students led the way in passage rates, with 88.3 percent of students scoring a 3 or better on the 664 exams taken.

OCHS students took 782 AP exams, with 65 percent scoring a 3 or better. 

At South Oldham, students took 897 exams, with 57 percent passing with a 3 or better.

Students took the most tests in English language and composition, with 383 exams taken and 249 passing with a 3 or better.

Human geography, psychology and U.S. history are other popular courses.

AP exam distributor CollegeBoard also announced its second-annual “honor roll” recognizing public school districts that simultaneously achieved increases in access to AP courses and also maintained or improved the rate at which students earned scores of 3 or better.

Oldham County Schools have made the list both years. One other Kentucky district, Barren County, made the list both years.

Five Kentucky districts made the list of 367 districts nationwide.