Participation rates for students taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes at Montevallo High School are at an all-time high, according to Principal Wesley Hester. The participation rate in AP courses at MHS more than doubled last school year as compared to previous years and the school is again seeing a large number of students enrolled in AP courses this school year.
Hester said the increase is attributable to the school being one of four high schools in Shelby County participating in the A+ College Ready Program, an AP training program which works to expand AP course offerings and enrollment in the subject areas of Math, Science, and English. The program also works to increase the number of students receiving qualifying scores on AP exams in those subject areas. The program, which is funded by the National Math & Science Initiative, the Alabama State Department of Education, and numerous businesses, offers financial incentives to students (and their teachers) for scoring a three or higher on AP exams.
Lusia MacPherson, Supervisor of Gifted Education for the Shelby County School District, said the A+ College Ready Program is helping to improve the academic culture of the schools participating in the program. In addition to Montevallo High School, Shelby County High School, Calera High School and Vincent High School are also A+ College Ready schools.
“The financial incentives for the students and the teachers are helping to really change the culture at those schools,” said Dr. MacPherson. “Students who have the potential to participate in rigorous AP courses are seeing that they can be rewarded for their efforts if they score a three or higher on the AP exams.”
At Montevallo, the increase in the number of students participating in the programs can be clearly seen in comparing previous years’ data. For instance, only seven students participated in AP English Literature during the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years. That number increased to 22 students last year and to 32 students for this current year. In AP Chemistry, six students were enrolled for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years. Last year, that number increased to 15 students and this year there are 19 students enrolled in the class.
Montevallo currently has 30 students participating in AP English Language and 15 students in AP Biology. Neither of those classes had any students participating prior to last school year.
In addition to the increase opportunities being offered through Math, English and Science AP courses, Montevallo High School is also offering additional AP courses in other subject areas, such as AP US History, AP Art, and AP Music Theory. Montevallo and Calera High schools are the only two Shelby County high schools that offer AP Music Theory, a unique class which combines written and aural skills of music notation, recognition, composition, and other fundamentals to prepare a student to fully analyze the construction of music.