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AP Excellence: TCCHS students, teachers earn high pass rates, exam scores

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Thomas County Central High School Advanced Placement program excelled in its 2020-2021 end-of-course exams and overall course success rates.

TCCHS had 146 students test. Of the 243 exams given, the school has the scores for 235 of them currently. To pass an AP exam, one must score a 3 or higher. TCCHS students earned this ranking in 186, or 79.1 percent of its tests: 84 3s, 69 4s, and 33 5s. Also, 39 students achieved AP Scholar status.

“AP scores are a huge hit this year,” Assistant Principal Jim Rehberg, who supervises the school’s AP program, said. “The teachers and students really hit a home run.”

According to the College Board, which creates and coordinates AP content, scores declined last year due to COVID-19 restrictions that impacted instruction. However, despite the rumblings of negative outcomes worldwide, Rehberg said TCCHS defied the odds. For example, the College Board’s AP Score Report lists the global average pass rate for AP Psychology at 53.9 percent and the Georgia pass rate only a few points higher at 56.4 percent; however, the TCCHS pass rate was 88 percent, more than 30 points higher than the world and state averages.

“Despite all the circumstances over the past year of instruction, our teachers and our students rose to meet the challenges head-on,” he said. “They never wavered on the challenge of Advanced Placement coursework, and I'm proud to say the vast majority will end up with college credit in addition to being equipped for college coursework. To say we were overjoyed at the scores we received would be an understatement.”

Students may earn one of three titles for their academic excellence in their AP exams: AP Scholar, AP Scholar with Honor, and AP Scholar with Distinction.

This year, TCCHS had 18 students receive AP Scholar status. This means they made a 3 or higher on three or more AP exams. Next, 12 students earned the AP Scholar with Honor accolade for averaging a 3.25 or more on all AP exams taken and a 3 or higher on four or more tests. Finally, nine pupils obtained the AP Scholar with Distinction title. These youth received an average score of 3.5 or more on all their AP exams and posted 3 or higher on five or more of them (see box).

Last year, current senior Karsyn Bush took four AP courses and exams: government, language and composition, psychology, and seminar. Her scores on these last tests elevated her to AP Scholar with Distinction status, an honor she’s always wanted.

 “I have always wanted to be an AP Scholar because earning that title would mean that I accomplished something huge,” Bush said. “As a freshman, I walked the halls of the high school seeing older students' names on a banner, showing that they had met the requirements and earned the AP Scholar title. They had worked extremely hard, and they were being recognized for it. Now, I have earned the title, and my hard work has paid off. I feel very honored and proud to have earned this title, as it means a lot to me. Being recognized for all of my hard work the past few years feels amazing.”

In addition to celebrating their students’ successes, TCCHS AP instructors have reason to cheer for their achievements, too. Notably, AP Music Theory and AP Seminar (in its first year) achieved 100 percent pass rates.

Bush took AP Seminar and called it one of her favorite AP classes. Seminar is the first part of a two-year program called AP Capstone, which also includes AP Research.

“Seminar is an interdisciplinary course that allows for students to engage in critical thinking, collaboration with classmates, evaluating multiple perspectives, and academic research that we apply to many essays and projects throughout the year,” she said. “I am extremely proud of my classmates and my instructors for how well we performed on the exam and performance tasks, especially since last year was the first year this class had ever been offered here at the high school.”

A new year of AP courses just began. Bush has AP on her schedule this year and encourages fellow students to consider the program.

“The thing I enjoy most about AP is that I walk away from each class feeling like I have learned something new,” she said. “… I know that my AP classes have definitely prepared me for college and the ‘adult world.’ Yes, these classes are a challenge, but others should consider taking these classes because of the valuable skills and information that they will be able to apply to the rest of their life.”

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