Archive for Thursday, September 7, 2006

Lansing High students ace College Board’s calculus test

September 7, 2006

Lansing High School students in the advanced placement calculus program have made academic history.

District officials said two students earned the highest possible score of 5 when they took the College Board's AP Calculus AB exam in May. A third student scored a 4. The district did not release the students' names because of confidentiality.

The College Board's grading scale for the AP test ranges from 1 to 5. Scores of 4 are considered above average and 5s are considered exceptional. The exam assesses students' abilities in differential and integral calculus at the level of a college-level Calculus 1 course.

LHS counselor Linda Tubbs said in the 12 years she had been at LHS, this was the first time anyone had scored a 5 on the calculus exam. She said she has seen a few 4s through the years.

"I was very pleased and I'm sure the kids were too," Tubbs said. "I think this time we just got lucky and had some kids with some mathematic genes."

School officials learned the results in July.

The test scores were especially good news for math teacher Randy Brown, who taught calculus for the first time at LHS last year and helped students prepare for the exam. The three students were the only LHS students who took the exam.

"I was a little concerned because it was my first year teaching it, and I wanted to make sure that we were teaching the right things," Brown said.

Brown attributed the high scores to the school's approach to the curriculum and exam.

LHS follows the recommended AP calculus curriculum, he said, and that ensures that students will be better prepared. Brown also offered practice sessions and tests, which he said helped students know what to expect on testing day.

Between 25 and 30 students enroll in the course at LHS each year. Through a partnership with Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kan., LHS students earn dual high school and college credit. Course credit in the program transfers to colleges and universities in Kansas but isn't guaranteed to transfer to all out-of-state schools; however, scores of 4 and 5 on the nationally recognized AP exam ensure that the course credit will transfer to out-of-state colleges and universities in the U.S.

Tubbs said only two or three students take the test every year and most do so because they want to earn guaranteed credit at out-of-state colleges. Students who take the exam pay a $74 fee for the four-hour test, which consists of multiple choice and problem-solving questions.

Brown said whether students decide to take the exam, it was important to offer AP courses and maintain the partnership with colleges and universities such as Donnelly College.

"I think the community and the parents see a commitment to higher education when you do that," Brown said. "The students see that you're trying to prepare them for life beyond high school, so you end up having certain standards that everyone wants to achieve.

"Lansing High School prepares our students for college very well, and this is evidence of that."

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