'Very, Very Strong Showing' By WHS on Advanced Placement Exams
School officials see slight course enrollment decline, though.
Half of the Westborough High School students taking Advanced Placement exams last year earned the top score of 5, part of a "very, very strong showing" there, Assistant School Superintendent Dr. Daniel Mayer told the school committee Wednesday night.
Overall, 89 percent of Westborough High students earned a 3 or above, "which is a fantastic score,' Mayer said. The state average was 74 percent, and the global average was 61 percent, he said. Earning a score of 3 or higher can earn a student college credit, Mayer noted.
Westborough High's AP course enrollment has declined slightly over the past three or four years, though, Mayer said.
Mayer said he and Principal John Smith have decided to compare Westborough's AP course enrollment to similar school systems' percentages of juniors and seniors taking the exams "to see if maybe we're on par," before discussing potential policy changes.
"Maybe there's no issue there at all," Mayer said.
Westborough High saw mainly juniors and seniors take AP exams in 21 subjects last year, he said.
Of this group, 77 percent scored a 4 or a 5, he said.
Over the past five years, Westborough High annually has had about 90 percent of students taking AP tests score a 3 or higher, Mayer said.
Smith said school officials will explore the enrollment trend by surveying current sophomores' intentions for next year, and working with the guidance department.
"On the flip side of this, we've also stressed to our kids over the last three or four years balance," Smith said.
"Because they are so highly involved in so many highly academic and extracurricular programs, we want to make sure that kids are certainly exposed to advanced placement, have opportunities for advanced placement, but also make sure that they balance schedule and balance life."
Scheduling is a factor.
Smith said it's "more limiting for juniors to actually take Advanced Placement courses, simply because of the way a course is typically run."
In a number of foreign language courses, "our students come in in their second year" after taking the language at Gibbons, Smith said. These students "typically come in to the Level 2" course at Westborough High, he said.
"Before they get to the AP, they have to go through 2, 3 and 4," so, "they are seniors by the time they take the AP," he said.
School officials will look at U.S. history, which students take as juniors, Smith said. The exceptions are students moving here from other states or from high schools with "a different format," he said.
"Some of them have gone down a little bit, but that has sort of been a little bit of a wave," Smith said.
Chemistry scores, meanwhile, "are very, very strong," but enrollments are declining, he said.
Most juniors take chemistry, Smith said.
Most students take biology as a sophomore, he added.
"They have to then make a choice. Because we have such talented kids, so many of them are also involved in the music programs. And in this community, that's not really seen as an elective. That's a core," Smith said.