Phoenixville, Spring-Ford AP test scores, participation up

PHOENIXVILLE — The Phoenixville Area School Board learned that its high school students are taking Advanced Placement tests and scoring higher than many students in the state and country.

Dr. Craig Parkinson, the principal of Phoenixville Area High School, gave a presentation that revealed that his students scored more than 21 percent higher than the state average for college-credit-admissible scores in the district’s 21 AP courses.

“There’s a lot of good news in these scores,” Parkinson said.

AP tests are scored on a scale of 1 to 5. Traditionally, scores of 5, 4, and 3 will earn college credit in a course for high school students that achieve those on the end-of-year exams.

As such, Phoenixville students scored very well in the round of AP tests administered at the end of the 2011-12 school year.

Eighty-nine percent of Phoenixville students who sat for AP exams scored a 3 or better. Pennsylvania’s average stood at 68 percent, the country stood at 68 percent and the rest of the world was at 61 percent.

Up the road, Spring-Ford Area High School students also displayed test scores well above the curve.

In a presentation to their school board by Keith Floyd, Spring-Ford’s supervisor of curriculum, he said 84 percent of their high school students’ tests scored at 3 or above.

Following up the district’s first year on the AP Honor Roll, 232 students participated in AP courses.

Throughout the last five years, Floyd said Spring-Ford students have scored between 20 and 30 percent higher than state and global averages.

“A tremendous, tremendous feat,” Floyd said.

Parkinson’s presentation broke down Phoenixville scores by individual scores.

Taking into account all AP tests taken in the U.S., he said, 16 percent of tests that students took across the country came back with scores 5s. Of the AP tests students took at Phoenixville Area High School last school year, 35 percent were scored at 5. Similarly, 20 percent of the national tests were scored with a 4, while 31 percent at Phoenixville were scored with a 4. Nationally, 22 percent of tests were scored with a 3 while 23 percent at Phoenixville had a 3.

On the other side, nationally, 21 percent were scored at 2 and another 21 percent were scored with a 1. Only 9 percent of Phoenixville scores were a 2 and just 2 percent were a 1.

Overall, Phoenixville’s AP students achieved scores that compared and eclipsed national standards.

Parkinson said those numbers were “definitely fantastic.”

“Truly, these are the reports that make our jobs worthwhile,” Phoenixville School Board President Paul Slaninka said before congratulating the district’s students and teachers.

Additionally, the number of students taking AP classes and also following through to take the AP exams has grown in Phoenixville.

In 2009, according to Parkinson’s presentation, 285 students were enrolled in AP courses. In 2012, 454 were enrolled, and in 2013, that number grew greatly to 584.

“We have more than doubled,” the number of students in AP classes over the last four school years, Parkinson said.

Parkinson highlighted several AP courses where Phoenixville’s students shone.

In Jeff Wynne’s 9th grade human geography course, 16 students were enrolled and 15 took the exam. For the first time in district history, all 15 achieved scores of 3, 4 or 5, which would likely earn them college credit.

Four students scored a 5, eight scored a 4 and three scored a 3 in the first AP course offered in the district to freshmen.

For 11th grade AP U.S. History, 52 students took the course and 49 students sat for the exam. Fifteen scored a 5, 19 scored a 4, 11 scored a 3, 4 scored a 2 and none scored a 0. That was an improvement on the year before, when 47 students sat for the exam out of 56 and two scored a 5, seven scored a 4, 18 scored a 3, 17 scored a 2 and three scored a 1.

“That’s amazing, the turnaround we saw with U.S. history,” Parkinson said.

He thanked all of the students and teachers for doing a “fantastic job.”

“That’s the report,” Parkinson said. “It’s impressive. I’m excited to be here to share this with you. Students, I’m excited for all the hard work you’ve done to make this happen at Phoenixville High School. I’m proud of you and the teachers, as well.”

Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno

The story was originally published on www.pottsmerc.com.

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