The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

February 16, 2014

Fewer poor state students take AP exams

CHARLESTON — The number of students taking Advanced Placement courses across the nation has nearly doubled over the last decade. While the number of low-income students has more than quadrupled, a recent report from the College Board indicates West Virginia is still behind when it comes to making sure low-income students have access to these rigorous classes.

According to the “10th Annual AP Report to the Nation” published by the College Board, low-income students accounted for 27.5 percent of 2013 graduates who took at least one AP Exam in 2013, up from 11.4 percent in 2003. In all, 275,864 low-income graduates in the class of 2013 took at least one AP Exam, up from 58,489 in 2003.

In West Virginia, where nearly 52 percent of students receive free or reduced lunches — an indication of poverty — low-income students made up 16 percent of exam takers, according to College Board data.

States with similar levels of student poverty are seeing a greater percentage of low-income students take AP Exams. For example, California has 54 percent of its students on free and reduced lunches and 42 percent of its AP exam-takers are low-income. Likewise, Nevada has 50 percent on free or reduced lunches, while 33 percent of exam-takers are low-income.

College Board President David Coleman said the association is working to make sure equity gaps are eliminated.

“While great strides have been made over the last decade to expand access to AP, we remain as committed as ever to ensuring that every student with the potential to succeed in an AP course has the opportunity to take one,” he said.

Judy Johnson, director of curriculum for Wood County Schools, said West Virginia requires every high school to offer at least four AP courses. In addition, all AP courses are offered through the Department of Education’s virtual school online.

While this does increase course access throughout the state, virtual AP courses are sometimes more difficult for students who would flourish in a traditional classroom, said Kenny Moles, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Raleigh County.

“Virtual courses are more difficult, if for no other reason than because they are self-paced. Students who take them must be socially and academically mature to make sure they are reaching those benchmarks week after week,” he explained.

Moles also said school size and teachers’ willingness to go through AP training every three years play a huge role in what courses are taught. In Raleigh County, two students are taking AP classes non-traditionally. One student at Independence High School is enrolled in a virtual AP course and another from Liberty High School travels during third period to take an AP course at a neighboring high school during fourth period, he said.

Enrolling and taking the rigorous courses are free; however, there are fees connected to taking the AP Exams, which are needed for students to receive college credit for the course. Johnson said students can take the exams for free or at a reduced cost with federal funding if they qualify for free or reduced lunches.

Teachers at Parkersburg High School in Wood County believed so strongly in the importance of AP exams they took an out-of-pocket collection to pay for 60 students to take 72 tests during the 2013 federal government shutdown, said principal Pam Goots.

“Advanced Placement classes are more demanding and there is more student responsibility in the course. It helps students be more successful in college,” she explained. “Students spend more time writing and applying their knowledge rather than spitting back the facts. It boosts their higher-order thinking skills.”

Typically students must score a 3 or higher on AP exams to receive college credit. According to College Board data, West Virginia, Missouri, North Dakota, Louisiana and Mississippi are the five states in the nation with the fewest students scoring 3 or more.


Text Only
West Virginia
  • Manchin urges mines to speak out for coal

    The Democratic senator leading the battle against the White House’s strategy to fight climate change urged the mining industry on Tuesday to speak out about coal’s role in providing affordable, reliable electricity to the country to help combat strict new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

    April 16, 2014

  • Many schools already meet new mandate for breakfast

    Many West Virginia public schools have changed the way they serve breakfast to students ahead of a requirement that goes into effect in September.

    April 14, 2014

  • W.Va. grower promotes unmodified feed corn

    Lyle Tabb is hoping that his non-genetically modified corn will take off with farmers who can charge top dollar for “all natural” eggs.
    Genetically modified or GMO corn has greatly simplified the process of getting rid of weeds, but has also substantially increased the amount of a chemical call glyphosate.

    April 13, 2014

  • Geologists link small quakes to fracking

    Geologists in Ohio have for the first time linked earthquakes in a geologic formation deep under the Appalachians to hydraulic fracturing, leading the state to issue new permit conditions Friday in certain areas that are among the nation’s strictest.
    A state investigation of five small tremors last month in the Youngstown area, in the Appalachian foothills, found the injection of sand and water that accompanies hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Utica shale may have increased pressure on a small, unknown fault, said State Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers. He called the link “probable.”

    April 12, 2014

  • Phares looks forward to retirement

    James Phares looked forward to the challenge and opportunity to help make a difference in a state education system under fire when he was hired in late 2012 as West Virginia’s schools superintendent.
    After 18 months, Phares will be stepping down on June 30 — which he said was set long ago as the day at age 61 that he’d walk with his wife into retirement.

    April 11, 2014

  • Teacher planning, abortion ban among W.Va. vetoes

    Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed about 200 bills and nixed eight this year, leaving teachers and abortion opponents unsatisfied.

    April 7, 2014

  • Spill company president ‘bears no fault’

    The president of Freedom Industries “bears no fault” for a West Virginia chemical spill that spurred a water-use ban for up to 10 days for 300,000 people, his lawyer says in a court filing.
    On Friday, Freedom President Gary Southern withdrew his application to get paid for work he already did during the company’s bankruptcy proceedings. He also wanted Freedom and its insurance to cover his legal fees related to the Jan. 9 spill.

    April 5, 2014

  • Agencies to ask West Virginia residents about chemical spill

    Health agencies are making thousands of phone calls and going door-to-door to ask West Virginians how a January chemical spill affected them.
    The state Bureau for Public Health announced Thursday that volunteers will survey randomly selected households in nine counties about health concerns from the spill.

    April 5, 2014

  • Hearing scheduled on police shooting suit dispute

    The family of a Virginia man who was shot and killed by Martinsburg police officers after a scuffle is asking a judge to order the city to give them investigative and autopsy reports from the incident.
    The estate of 50-year-old Wayne Arnold Jones of Stephens City, Va., filed a $200 million federal lawsuit against the city after he was killed on March 13, 2013.

    April 4, 2014

  • Families remember mine disaster victims

    Four years after losing friends and relatives in a West Virginia mine disaster, 11 people preferred to watch a film together that they knew would reopen those wounds.
    The film, “Upper Big Branch - Never Again,” by former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship theorized that his old company wasn’t at fault for the deadly explosion, despite four investigations that concluded otherwise.

    April 3, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads