GHS looks to expand AP program

Published 2:48 pm Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dr. Charles Farmer envisions an academic atmosphere at Greenville High School where students consistently strive to be their best.

That’s why Farmer, principal at Greenville High School, met with a member of College Board last week in Greenville in hopes of finding ways to expand the school’s current Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum. Also present were Joseph Dean, principal of Georgiana High School, and Rita Wright, Asst. Superintendent for Curriculum.

Dr. Bill Heron, who serves as Educational Manager with K-12 services for College Board, the non-profit organization that administers the SAT test, was on-site last Wednesday, said Farmer. Heron talked with school administrators about ways they could help enlighten parents and students about available AP classes.

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“Dr. Heron just has a wealth of experience,” said Farmer. “His goal has been to help find ways to implement AP classes in schools. He opened our eyes to a lot of ways we could help our kids.”

Above all, said Farmer, Heron expressed a “sense of urgency.”

“He put the onus on us as administrators and school leadership,” he said. “Whatever we expect as leaders, we have to be willing to push for that.”

Greenville High School currently offers five AP classes, including AP English for juniors and seniors, US History for juniors, biology, and calculus. Farmer said his goal is to add at least three more AP classes by next year, possibly consisting of studio art, world history and Spanish. AP classes allow students to receive college credit, upon completion of a final exam, while also helping students develop successful study habits for college prior to graduation.

Farmer said Heron discussed ways administrators could utilize data from the PSAT – the “practice” test for the SAT college admissions test – to encourage students to take AP classes. A student’s percentile score in a given subject, said Farmer, is a good indication on how the student would perform in an AP environment. Higher percentages, over 60 percent, said Farmer, means the student will likely score high enough on the AP test to receive college credit.

Butler County currently has 119 students enrolled in AP classes, according to central office data.

Farmer wants to see that number increase dramatically.

“Our goal,” said Farmer, “is to push all of our kids to challenge themselves academically.”