State recognizes Woodland and Cartersville AP performances
by Mark Andrews
Mar 02, 2014 | 2106 views | 0 0 comments | 66 66 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Circled by her students, Woodland High School AP Environmental Science and Earth Systems teacher Brandie Freeman teaches a class. Both WHS and Cartersville High School recently were recognized by the Georgia Department of Education for their AP offerings and student testing scores. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Circled by her students, Woodland High School AP Environmental Science and Earth Systems teacher Brandie Freeman teaches a class. Both WHS and Cartersville High School recently were recognized by the Georgia Department of Education for their AP offerings and student testing scores. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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State School Superintendent John Barge last week named 462 Advanced Placement Honor Schools, including Cartersville High School and Woodland High School, recognizing both for their AP offerings as well as scores on AP Exams.

“There are so many Georgia schools that have great success with Advanced Placement,” Barge said in a press release. “I am so pleased to see this success grow to more and more of our schools this year. These achievements can be attributed to the outstanding students and teachers at each of our AP Honor Schools.”

The release explains, “AP classes and exams are administered by the College Board, which also administers the SAT. AP classes offer rigorous college-level learning options to students in high school. Students who receive a 3, 4 or 5 on AP exams may receive college credit.”

Both schools were recognized as an AP STEM School, a distinction for students testing in “at least two (2) AP math courses and two (2) AP science courses (AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Statistics, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics B, AP Physics C, AP Computer Science); and as an AP STEM Achievement School, with “students testing in at least 2 AP math courses and 2 AP science courses and at least 40 percent of the exam scores on AP math and AP science exams earning scores of three (3) or higher,” according to the release.

This year, CHS hosts AP Calculus, AP Statistics, AP Biology, AP Chemistry and AP Microeconomics as AP STEM offerings.

“I think all [courses] appeal to different kinds of students. We have the most in AP Social Studies because that’s where the most courses are offered and we’re able to offer them each year and what’s different about the social studies courses is they can be taken as an individual course as there’s not a prerequisite,” CHS Principal Steven Butler said. “For example, you don’t already have to have taken U.S. History in order to take AP U.S. History, whereas in science the students have already taken the preceeding course.

“Research shows that even students who don’t do well on the AP exams tend to do better in college once they get there due to taking a more rigorous course load, so I think the AP curriculum is standardized as people go through it they’re going to be better prepared.”

He said he appreciates the work of students and staff in helping the school achieve state recognition.

“The first thing [the recognition] shows me is students are succeeding, but there wouldn’t be student success without the teachers who are preparing them and I think that’s the most important thing — if teachers push the students, if teachers connect with the students and get the best out of the students,” Butler said.

CHS AP Biology instructor Michelle Stone explained how she works with students to help them achieve their highest potential.

“On a traditional schedule with 50 minutes for a science, lab-based class, we use the ‘flipped classroom’ concept where students receive guided/outline notes, preview questions that correspond to online animations/video clips, and assignments to complete at home,” Stone said. “We review several of the main concepts during class and the students are responsible for the details.

“The workshop model for the actual classroom time includes ‘work sessions’ in the classroom where students complete mini-labs, activities and simulations — either pencil-and-paper or virtual online. The 12 required labs and 10 supplemental labs are completed on early morning lab days on Wednesdays and Thursdays beginning at 7:15 [a.m.] to allow enough time for students to complete them.

“Students are also afforded the opportunity to ask questions during class, or attend the AP tutorial/study sessions offered after school, usually on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays. Closer to the actual AP exam, students are given the option of taking a full-length practice exam to further prepare them. The AP science students have to do a lot of work outside the classroom, so individual preparation and personal initiative are essential to their success.”

She said students would not be as successful in AP courses if it wasn’t for the emphasis their parents placed on having their children grow up to follow through with set goals.

“... Being an AP STEM Achievement school is indicative of the value that our community places on education,” Stone said.

WHS Principal Melissa Williams said the school offers AP Calculus, AP Statistics, AP Environmental Science and AP Biology as AP STEM courses.

“Woodland’s academic accomplishments may not be as well-known as our performing arts program; however, our AP and other test scores reflect the staff members’ dedication to student achievement,” Williams said. “As principal, I am honored to work with faculty who go above and beyond to provide rigorous and relevant instructional opportunities for our Wildcats.”

She continued, “Woodland not only offers a distinguished fine arts program but also provides challenging academic courses, skillful career pathways and energetic athletic opportunities. Academically, Woodland High School’s goal is to provide every single student with the highest quality educational programs.

“We feel every student needs a solid academic foundation. Our variety of career courses not only provides technical skills to prepare students for postsecondary educational ventures but also offers real-world applications to develop students’ critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.”

WHS AP Coordinator Heather Candela also said she was proud of the students and teachers who have worked to make the school’s AP STEM courses a success.

“I cannot brag enough about the dedication of Woodland’s students and teachers in the STEM areas. They commit themselves fully to a successful year from the get-go and refuse to ever settle for less,” Candela said. “Through teamwork and passion, tenacity and pure hard work, our STEM programs succeed year after year. I am so very proud of their efforts and outcomes.”