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How One School Created a College-Going Culture by Tripling AP Students

How One School Created a College-Going Culture by Tripling Advanced Placement Students

One Maryland high school has more than tripled the number of students in Advanced Placement classes over the past five years in a push to get students prepared for college.

Research has shown time and again that students who take Advanced Placement (AP) classes are more likely to get into and succeed in college. That's why the North County High School in Glen Burnie, Maryland, decided to increase the 10% of students that annually took AP classes to in turn raise the only 25% of graduating seniors planning for college.

"To build a college-going culture, the school added more AP courses, eliminated all of the requirements to get in and pushed every student to take at least one. In five years, the number of AP students has tripled, from about 200 to 600," according to an article on

The school supplemented this effort by adding more tutoring and investing in a college prep program, AVID, "which provides support for students taking AP courses."

As more students are being encouraged to take advanced courses, teachers, too have to make adjustments. Teachers "no longer get just the brightest or most-motivated students. To keep classes challenging for those students, [AP English teacher Jennifer] Mermod says she breaks her class into small groups. Sometimes the better-prepared students serve as leaders," according to the article.

It's also important to note that at "North County High, more than two-thirds of students generally do not pass the exams, meaning no college credit."

AP courses were originally designed to give higher-achieving students college credit, and some critics say by encouraging all students to take them, the AP courses are being watered down and in turn the brightest of the bunch will suffer.

But "Principal Cares says they’re working to improve that rate. Even without the college credit, she says students develop skills like writing and critical thinking that will serve them in college," the article said.

Read the full article here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


Should schools encourage students to take AP courses even if they are not likely to pass the exam?

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