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SAU 25 makes AP honor roll

For the second straight year, SAU 25 has been recognized as one of 529 school districts to boost access to advanced placement courses while simultaneously increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or better on AP exams.

According to the College Board, a nonprofit organization that develops the AP program, achieving both of these is ideal, showing that the district is identifying motivated, academically prepared students likely to benefit most from AP course work.

Because of this achievement the district has been placed on the third annual AP District Honor Roll.

Bedford is one of nine districts in the state to receive the acknowledgement, including Dover, Dresden, Lebanon, Merrimack, Pelham, Pemi-Baker, Souhegan and Conway.

“Congratulations to the many teachers at (Bedford High School) who support a rigorous and challenging curriculum and for the students who are accepting this challenge,” said Superintendent Tim Mayes in a recent blog entry.

From 2010 to 2012, the district has increased the number of students participating in AP courses from 106 to 162, as 70 percent of AP students have earned at least one score of 3 or higher.

“We applaud the extraordinary efforts of the devoted teachers and administrators in this district, who are fostering rigorous work worth doing,” said College Board President David Coleman. “These educators have not only expanded student access to AP course work, but they have enabled more of their students to achieve on a college level – which is helping to create a strong college-going culture.”

Over 90 percent of colleges and universities across the country offer college credit for a score of 3 or better on an AP exam. College students can see significant savings in tuition costs as a result.

Inclusion on the honor roll is based on three years of AP data, from 2010 to 2012. Large districts must increase participation and access to AP by at least 4 percent; ensure that the percentage of students of color taking AP Exams did not decrease by more than 5 percent; and improve performance levels when comparing the percentage of students in 2012 scoring a 3 or higher to those in 2010.

“We’ve done this two years in a row now, which is great,” said James Brown, dean of student services at BHS. “We’re one of only two schools in the state that achieves that part of it.”

Brown said that between AP and the International Baccalaureate program, the number of Bedford students enrolled in advanced programs is impressive.

“I think that AP and IB levels are inherently challenging … so we’re really proud of the high level of enrollment that we have in those challenging courses,” Brown said.

Unlike IB, the AP program comes at no cost to the district. Students pay a fee to take the end-of-course exam, which this year was $87.

Seven BHS teachers teach AP courses.

The AP program offers high achieving students the chance to pursue college-level studies in high school through 34 subjects which end with a rigorous exam. According to the College Board, AP students learn to think critically, construct solid arguments and see many sides of an issue.

The program is intended to prepare students for college, demonstrating to college admissions officers that students have sought the most challenging academic course while in high school.

Over the last decade, participation in AP has doubled. In May 2012, 2.1 million students from more than 18,000 schools around the world took AP exams.

AP began in Bedford with the opening of the high school in 2007. The first year, the only AP courses were in U.S. history and English language and composition. It expanded in subsequent years to include European history, literature and composition and psychology. An array of IB courses adds to the list of accelerated learning courses, and IB students can take AP exams.

Brown said it’s possible that the district could receive the same recognition next year, as a greater number of students are in the pipeline for AP classes this year than last year.

“We’re always exploring angles to get more college credit for our students while they’re here, and that can take the shape of AP, IB,” in addition to Running Start, an exchange with the community college system, and other accelerated-learning initiatives, Brown said.

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