More PISD students accept AP challenge

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Measuring from year to year, significantly more Pearland ISD high school students are taking more advanced, college-credit courses and exams.

Records show a 21 percent increase in the number of AP, or Advanced Placement, exams taken by Pearland students from 2015 to 2016, staff reported to the school board at its October meeting.

“That’s awesome,” Superinte-ndent John Kelly said.

“AP” is it as known, is a program throughout the U.S. through which high schoolers can earn college course credits by exams. AP classes are designed to help students prepare and pass those exams, which are scored between 1 and 5. Scores of 3 or above on AP exams are considered passing.

Pearland ISD staff reported that 98.13 percent of students enrolled in AP courses took the exams. A recent push by the district encourages students at all three high schools to “push themselves” and enroll in AP courses. More than 60 percent of all PISD high school students are now taking one or more AP courses.

And it’s not just top scholars enrolling, Kelly said.

“If you took the growth percentage in high school populations and you compared it to this huge leap, you’d see that the number of kids getting these (AP) awards is far greater than just adding new students to the system,” he said.

However, PISD is likely “topping out” with its number of students taking — and passing — AP classes and exams.

“It’s unrealistic to expect that number to climb very much,” Kelly said. “You’re bringing in kids (to the AP program) that aren’t necessarily the top kids; you’re taking a more broad swath of the student body.”

The percentage of PISD students who scored a passing “3” or high on AP exams last year was 31 percent, compared to the state average of 20 percent. The highest state average was Maryland at 31.7 percent, followed by Massachusetts at 31.5 percent.

“I love to say that if we were a state, we’d be third out of the whole 50,” Kelly said.

Story by Nicole Jones

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