Taking advanced placement courses and the culminating exams at Farragut High School has been a win-win result for all student participants, FHS principal Ryan Siebe said.
Meanwhile, the school is expanding a college cooperative opportunity, where its students get to experience taking on-campus college courses during FHS first and fourth periods.
The success rate for FHS students scoring high on AP exams, either a 3, 4 or 5, continues to rise, said Siebe and curriculum principal Candace Greer.
In fact, the number of AP exams taken by FHS students who scored either 3, 4 or 5 rose from 705 (199 scores of 5) during the 2015-16 school year, to 933 (236 scores of 5) during the 2017-18 school year, they said. It was 827 (217 scores of 5) during 2016-17.
“We have told most of our kids, ‘if you are planning on going to college, then you probably need to find an AP or Dual Enrollment course in your best subject, and you need to take that course,’” Siebe said.
In keeping with that AP exam success, “We have expanded the number of AP courses we offer,” Siebe said.
“This coming year we’ll be offering 35 different AP courses,” Greer said, expanding from 32 offered during 2018-19.
The new AP courses include comparative government & politics and world language.
There’s another part to winning with the AP experience, however, according to the FHS administrators: for students who struggle in AP classes and on the culminating exam, the experience nevertheless is worth their effort.
“We think that if you take the class and get a C or a D, and then you take the exam and get a 1 or a 2, we believe — and there’s evidence to support from the college board — that those students are still going to be far more successful in college than they would have been if they hadn’t taken the class and the exam,” Siebe said. “We don’t want students to be afraid to get a 1 or a 2 because of the experience of taking the course and taking the exam makes them a stronger student.
“The biggest part is, it prepares them for college,” he added.
The most popular AP courses, Greer said, are “junior year AP U.S. history, and then AP language and composition. They are followed closely by our AP macroeconomics, that’s a senior-level class.
“AP is generally more rigorous than Dual Enrollment, but not always,” Siebe said.
The school will greatly amplify its four-year Dual Enrollment program cooperative with Pellissippi State Community College starting next school year, and has been discussing a Dual Enrollment partnership in certain science offerings with Lincoln Memorial University at its LMU-Knoxville’s DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine campus, 9737 Cogdill Road, starting in the 2020-21 school year.
“We looked at our numbers for next year, and we’re going to have potentially 89 different Dual Enrollment classes students can take next year with our partnership with Pellissippi State,” Greer said.
During the current school year, “we only allowed students to take six Dual Enrollment courses,” Siebe said about the school limiting the choices so as not to compete with FHS course offerings.
However, “We now think having that college experience, while you are still living with your parents and have a counselor available to you on the high school level, that’s important as well,” he added. “So we took the restrictions off and said, ‘if you can fit it into your schedule, in first or fourth period, then you sign up for it as long as Pellissippi says you meet the requirements.’”