Students at 28 Kentucky high schools who participated in an Advance Placement mentoring and training program outperformed national averages on their AP exams, according to figures released Friday.
Officials with the training program AdvanceKentucky said the results show that Kentucky students can learn and perform at high levels in AP programs when they and their teachers get strong backing.
"We're raising the expectations of our students," AdvanceKentucky executive director Joanne Lang said Wednesday. "Kids who never thought of themselves as AP material, or had never been recruited into AP, are finding they can be very successful with the support our program provides."
AdvanceKentucky supports participating high schools by providing study sessions to help students in AP classes. It also attempts to recruit more students into AP classes, and includes enhanced teacher training and teacher incentives.
The program began at 12 high schools two years ago. Sixteen more schools were added last year and another 16 this year.
According to the figures, students in the first 28 schools to join earned 2,012 passing scores on AP math, science and English exams in the 2009-10 school year. That's an increase of 52.6 percent over the previous year, and it exceeds state and national increases of 9.1 percent and 7.5 percent, AdvanceKentucky said.
The first 12 schools to join AdvanceKentucky showed a 162 percent increase in AP qualifying scores over that period, the organization said. That included an 825 percent increase among minority students, officials said.
Several area schools are among the high performers, including Bryan Station High School in Lexington, Anderson County High School, East Jessamine and West Jessamine high schools, and Scott County High School.
Anderson County High principal Ronnie Fields said that participating in the program has both increased AP scores and encouraged more students to take AP courses at his school. As recently as the 2003-04 school year, Anderson High had 108 students taking AP exams, but more than 550 took AP exams last school year.
In all, 44 schools now participate in AdvanceKentucky. The 16 schools that joined this year were not included in the results. AdvanceKentucky wants to bring in more schools next year, but that could depend on funding, Lang said. She said AdvanceKentucky spends an average of about $100,000 a year to help support AP efforts in each participating school.
AdvanceKentucky is a joint effort by the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Science and Technology Corp., in partnership with the National Math and Science Initiative.