high-school-ap-coursesAccording to a recent article in the St. Petersburg Times, a new trend is gaining momentum within high schools in Pasco County: AP courses. These courses, designed to be taught at a higher level than regular or honors courses, are giving students a better chance of not only getting into college, but saving money on courses.

“They’re much more rigorous — they’re tough. And it’s basically a college curriculum we teach to high schoolers,” said Vassak, who teaches geography at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel.

Vassak is doubling the number of AP courses he will teach this year, a trend that schools throughout Pasco County are picking up. According to the article, the number of end-of-the-year AP exams taken by Pasco students increased by 30 percent last year when compared to the year before.

Wiregrass Ranch High has doubled the number of AP test-takers and Hudson High has increased its AP course offerings from four classes to ten. The push is coming from teachers who encourage students enrolled in honors courses to pursue AP courses instead.

“Very good universities are looking now at AP courses — how many AP courses you have. So, it looks good very good when [students] go to apply,” said Morales, who also teaches at Wiregrass Ranch.

Students hesitated taking their AP Spanish class last year; however, one hundred percent passed the test at the end of the year.

Not only do AP courses catch the eye of admission departments, but they also offer the opportunity of college credit for students who pass with a score of three, four or five. For some this may mean early graduation, a lighter course load and saved money on courses they test out of due to their AP scores.

There are still benefits for those who may not pass with scores high enough to earn college credit. These types of courses can provide great life experience as well, as they give students the opportunity to challenge themselves.

While the AP course trend continues to climb, so too does the passing rate in Pasco County. The number of students who scored a three-out-of-five or higher on AP tests increased to 48 percent in 2009. The number was 41 percent in 2008.

AP courses are open to all students willing to take the challenge. According to the article, the availability of these courses has lead to surprising outcomes of dedication and success, even from the most unlikely cases.

What is your perspective on what AP courses bring to the table as far as preparing students for the future? Be sure to tell us in the comment section.

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