CONYERS -- More Rockdale County students are taking advanced academic classes and scoring higher on corresponding national tests.
Gene Baker, assistant superintendent for School Improvement at Rockdale County Public Schools, recently reported to the Rockdale County Board of Education that the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses in RCPS has increased, as has the number of students earning high scores on the AP tests.
AP classes offer rigorous college-level curricula to students in high school. Students who earn a 3, 4 or 5, from a range of 1 to 5, on the AP exams may receive college credit.
RCPS offers AP courses at every high school, including the Rockdale Career Academy and Virtual Campus. Examples of courses include U.S. History, World History, Economics, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Calculus, Statistics, American Literature, World Literature and Art.
Baker said that this school year, AP classes have 2,332 student seats. This is up from 2,213 student seats last school year and 1,863 the year before. The number of seats was just over 1,000 during the 2007-08 school year.
Even with the increase, more students are scoring higher on the exams, which are given for every AP course every year but students aren't required to take them.
Last school year, 90 RCPS students were named AP Scholars -- those who score a 3 or higher on three or more AP exams. This is an increase from 65 students, or nearly 40 percent from the previous school year.
Also last school year, 17 students were named AP Scholars with Honors, scoring at least a 3.25 on all exams taken or scoring a 3 or higher on four or more exams. That was nearly a 42 percent increase from the previous year.
Thirty-two students earned the title of AP Scholars with Distinction, scoring at least a 3.5 on all exams taken or scoring a 3 or higher on five or more exams, a 52 percent increase.
Last school year, two students were named National AP Scholars, which are those who score at least a 4 on all exams taken or score a 4 or higher on eight or more exams. Three were named the previous year.
Overall, 141 AP Scholars were named, a nearly 40 percent increase from the previous school year; the previous three years averaged around 100 students.
"I think this is the best performance we've had," Baker said, adding that the curriculum is not being watered down and the students are still achieving in the courses.
In February, the Georgia Department of Education named each of the three Rockdale County high schools, as well as the Rockdale Career Academy, an AP Honor School, based on results of student Advanced Placement exams.