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Tilghman's AP program on upswing

BY GENEVIEVE POSTLETHWAIT gpostlethwait@paducahsun.com

With numbers in from The College Board's Advanced Placement Program for the 2013-2014 school year, Paducah Tilghman High School has cause for celebration, as well as fresh motivation to out-perform itself in the year ahead.

Thirty-three recent Tilghman graduates earned honors as AP Scholars (about 30 percent of the school's AP students). About 18 percent of AP students worldwide performed well enough to earn the same recognition. The AP Scholar designations top off an outstanding year for Tilghman's AP program, which also recorded an all-time high number of students taking AP courses and AP assessments.

The College Board's AP Program provides students an opportunity to take college-level courses for college credit while still in high school,

"I think with the economy the way it is and college tuition rising, every class you can get that counts toward your degree in college is time well spent," said Paducah Independent Schools Superintendent Donald Shively.

For the 2013-2014 school year Tilghman had 109 AP students take a total of 176 AP exams, with 64.2 percent of students scoring 3 or higher on at least one of those exams. According to The College Board, research shows that a score of at least 3 (out of 5) on an AP exam is a solid indicator of success in and graduation from college.

Over the past five years, the success rate (or the percentage of total AP students scoring 3 or higher on exams) has stayed roughly the same at both the state and global level. Kentucky's success rate has hovered around 51 percent, slightly below the steady 60 percent success rate globally.

Though Tilghman's AP program started the five-year period below average in comparison with state and global success rates, it has come out above both for the second year in a row. Tilghman's success rate made a 30 percent jump from 45.3 in 2010 to 58.9 in 2011, and jumped again from 58.6 in 2012 to 64.2 where it held steady in 2014.

When asked what might account for the jump in student participation and performance in the school's AP program, Shively said he couldn't be sure. He once again pointed out the increased value of earning credit toward a college degree while still in high school, but said that when it comes down to it, it's all about the students and their teachers.

"It's thanks to the focus of the teachers to work with each and every kid," Shively said. "To really try and get those kids prepared for the assessment. They give of themselves above and beyond to make sure their kids are successful. Students take a lot of pride in how they do on those assessments too."

Twenty-three Tilghman students qualified as AP Scholars by completing three or more AP exams with scores of 3 or higher. Two students qualified as AP Scholars with Honor by earning an average score of at least 3.25 on all AP exams taken and scores of 3 or higher on four or more exams. Eight students qualified as AP Scholars with Distinction by scoring at least 3.5 on all of at least five AP exams. One student, William Hancock, qualified as a National AP Scholar by earning an average score of at least 4 on all of at least eight exams.

Contact Genevieve Postlethwait, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or at gpostlethwait@paducahsun.com.

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