College level courses on the rise at NCHS
NEW CANAAN — With the college application process becoming more and more competitive, New Canaan High School has invested in its college-level courses in recent years.
That includes local, regional and national programs.
College-level courses currently offered at the high school include the Early College Experience from the University of Connecticut, Project Lead the Way from the University of New Hampshire, Norwalk Community College courses and a plethora of subjects from the Advanced Placement Program.
“We’ve been pretty consistent over the last few years,” NCHS Principal Bill Egan said at a presentation to the Board of Education Monday night. “About 80 percent of our students take a college level course while they’re here at the high school.”
The Advanced Placement Program, overseen by the College Board, the nonprofit that also manages college entrance exams like the SAT, ranks scores on AP tests from one to five, with a score of three being a passing grade.
These AP courses range from languages to mathematics to science subjects.
There are 26 courses offered at the high school that are in the Advanced Placement program, up from 18 back in 2011. The number of students who have taken AP tests has also gone up from 278 in 2011 to 453 in 2018.
Courses like Latin and French, however, are not currently being offered as AP courses due to low enrollment.
“Practically, how do classes with low numbers work — are there classes that are combined or how does teaching take place?” Brendan Hayes, a board of education member, asked.
Egan said that AP courses like Latin have test dates that fall on school occasions like prom and so students have the incentive to take said courses not through the AP program.
Particularly outstanding courses where 100 percent of enrolled students obtained a score of 3 on their AP exam — and thus passing — were biology, European History, Spanish and Studio Art-2D.
“Basically, if you take Spanish AP, you pass,” Egan said.
AP Scholars, as titled by the College Board, are students who obtain an average score of 3 or higher on three or more exams.
The total number of AP scholars at the high school has steadily gone up in the last five school years. In the 2013-2014 school year, there were 127 AP scholars at the high school; in the 2017-2018 school year, there were 206 AP scholars.