Thanks to a successful trial initiative, more Laguna Beach high school students than ever are graduating with Advanced Placement credits on their transcripts, giving them a head start when entering college.
In the last school year, 43 percent more students took AP exams than in 2007, Asst. Supt. of Instructional Services Nancy Hubbell told the school board last week.
Advanced Placement courses offer students college-level instruction and exams in a wide variety of subjects, and LBHS offers some in every academic discipline. Depending on the college, students can receive full or partial credits in those subjects when they enroll.
Three years ago, the board directed a change in the way administrators evaluated potential candidates for AP courses. The idea was to enroll more students who had a good possibility of completing them successfully.
Administrators found that relying solely on grades and test scores as the basis of recommendations proved to be unreliable in predicting student success in AP classes. So they decided to shift tactics, describing more fully to students what they could expect in AP courses, including not just the advantages of taking them, but the kind of work and effort expected to succeed. The approach allows all students, regardless of their previous grades or test scores, to make an informed decision about the personal costs and benefits of enrolling in AP courses.
The informed consent approach seems to have worked. In 2007, 187 students took AP exams with an 85 percent pass rate. In 2011, 268 students took AP exams and achieved an 87 percent pass rate.
The new approach dovetails with the board’s objective of accepting no limits on a child’s learning potential, said Hubbell.