AP, SAT results down

Published 8:58 pm Friday, February 21, 2014

The College Board recently awarded 18 graduates of Suffolk’s public high schools for strong achievement in 2013’s advanced placement exams.

Thirteen were named AP Scholars, three were named AP Scholars with Honor, and two, Lakeland High School graduates Matthew Bradshaw and Jonathan Defreeuw, are AP Scholars with Distinction.

“It takes time management, but it’s definitely doable, as long as you are dedicated to the course,” Bradshaw, now at The University of Virginia studying chemical engineering, said of the six AP classes he took.

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But while many students earned the AP scholar title by scoring a 3 or higher on three or more exams, overall scores for the district were lower than in 2012, according to Deputy Superintendent Jacqueline Chavis.

Scores improved statewide, however. Gov. Terry McAuliffe noted this month that in the College Board’s 2014 AP Report to the Nation, Virginia improved its previous ranking of fifth among states to third, in terms of public high school seniors qualifying for college credit on AP exams.

Board data shows 276 Suffolk graduates took a total of 389 AP exams last year. A score of 3 or above was earned on 43 percent of those exams.

Carol Kennedy-Dickens, the district’s supervisor of advanced instruction, pointed out that not every student enrolled in AP classes takes the exams. Budget-driven policy changes in recent years mean students now have to pay for their own exams, resulting in fewer taking them.

But benefits are still reaped just from enrollment, Kennedy-Dickens said, in terms of experiencing a college-level class; and financial assistance with test fees is available from the Suffolk Education Foundation.

“The experience for all students of enrollment in a college-level course is of the greatest value,” she said.

“Students learn well-needed academic and life skills as well as how to become strong critical thinkers well-prepared for oral and written communication. This experience far outweighs whether or not they are placed in advanced courses or have courses waived.”

Bradshaw said AP classes “definitely help (students) prepare,” and he cited in particular English classes for building college-level writing skills.

“They also help you get some credit out of the way before you get to college, so you can be further ahead,” he said.

The College Board has also released details on SAT exams, revealing more declines for Suffolk Public Schools.

A district report analyzing the local results says 10.5 percent more students took the SAT Reasoning Test in 2013. The district average in critical reading dropped from 462 to 455, but Lakeland High School’s improved from 441 to 447.

The district’s average score for writing fell from 442 to 432, and for critical mathematics it went from 451 to 442. While average results for the state have been improving, the gap between it and the district have been widening, according to the report.

The district is working on improving, according to Chavis. “We will continue to maintain a focus on improving academic achievement for all of our students,” she said.

“This will be accomplished by continuing to improve and enhance educational strategies which enable the students to be stronger critical thinkers.”

Advanced Placement honorees

  • AP Scholars with Distinction (average grade of at least 3.5 on all AP exams taken, and grade of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams): Matthew Bradshaw and Jonathan Defreeuw, Lakeland High School.
  • AP Scholars with Honor (average grade of at least 3.25 on all AP exams taken, and grade of 3 or higher on four or more of these exams): Miguel Ramos, King’s Fork High School; Richard Harrah and Joseph Kirsh, Nansemond River High School.
  • AP Scholars (grades of 3 or higher on three or more AP exams): Carlisha Bivins, Christine Fulgham, Laura Smith and Tyree Smoote, King’s Fork High School; Kasey Askew and Jessica March, Lakeland High School; Rachel Childs, Heather Davis, Sara Gallagher, Sydney Glover, Jenelle Jones, Gaulvan Key and Madeline Van Dyke, Nansemond River High School.