Students at Chandler and Mesa high schools took more AP exams than their East Valley neighbors — and most of their statewide counterparts, to boot — according to results released this week by The College Board.
In fact, Chandler’s Hamilton and Basha High Schools and Mesa’s Mountain View are among the top five in the state for the number of exams taken by students last year.
AP — or Advanced Placement — classes are college-level courses students can take over their high school careers. Subjects include English language and composition, art history, statistics, calculus, world history, languages and more. Exams are given at the end of courses. According to educational leaders, results are good predictors of how prepared students are for college.
Colleges and universities may award credit to students who score high on the exams – one is the lowest score, three is considered passing and five is the highest.
According to the report on Arizona, more than 17 percent of the Class of 2012 took an AP exam. Ten percent of Arizona’s Class of 2012 scored a three or higher. Nationwide, that average was 19.5 percent.
A growing number of Arizona graduates are taking AP exams, according to the state report by The College Board, which administers the exams. Last year, 14,407 graduates in the Class of 2012 took an AP exam. In 2002, only 5,100 graduates took an exam.
And students are taking an increasing number of exams each year.
Gilbert’s James Park, a senior at Mesquite High School, is one of those students. Park took eight AP exams last year, six for classes he completed at his school and two for classes he completed online.
He scored a five — the highest possible — on all eight exams.
Park, 18 started taking AP classes his sophomore year. He scored fives on both those exams – calculus BC and world history.
“For world history, at my school, it’s a pretty popular sophomore class to take. For calculus BC, it’s more because I like advanced math and I wanted to get into it quickly,” he said.
The eight exams he took last year were in computer science, statistics, biology, chemistry, physics electricity and magnetism and physics mechanics, U.S. history, and English language and composition.
For his achievement, he was named the state’s male winner of the Siemens Award for Advanced Placement. Each year the Siemens Foundation honors the top male and female AP scorers in math and science in the nation as well as in each state.
Isabel Vange, a senior at BASIS Scottsdale, was named the female winner for Arizona.
Park said he saw his older brother take AP classes, so he knew what he wanted to do before he got to high school.
“I want to take the most advanced classes available to me in high school. When I look to my future prospects, I know colleges like the kids who took that extra challenge and hard classes. That’s a pretty big motivator for me,” he said.
This year, he’s taking five more AP exams.
Park said he’s applied to a number of colleges and is still waiting to hear a reply. His big hope is for MIT, so he said the Siemens Foundation scholarship that comes with the award is appreciated. But he likes that the award showcases his hard work.
“It’s just get a nice acknowledgment for what I’ve done so far and what I could do for my future,” he said.
Top 10 Arizona high schools for AP exams taken
SCHOOL || DISTRICT || # OF EXAMS
Hamilton || Chandler Unified || 1,775
University || Tucson Unified || 1,408
Basha ||Chandler Unified || 1,230
Pinnacle ||Paradise Valley Unified || 1,155
Mountain View ||Mesa Unified || 1,141
Chandler ||Chandler Unified || 805
Red Mountain ||Mesa Unified || 742
Catalina ||Tucson Unified || 740
Chaparral ||Scottsdale Unified || 730
Horizon ||Paradise Valley Unified || 676
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