State AP scores jump; Federal Way schools stay stagnant

Statewide Advanced Placement scores are on the rise, but Federal Way isn't as high.

The number of students taking the test has increased in the past five years, up 605 in 2004 to 1,039 in 2008. However, the number passing with a score of a three or higher (a three is usually the minimum required to gain college credit at state universities) has not kept pace, with 300 in 2004 and 307 in 2008.

The district has had more students taking the exam and has seen an increase in minority populations taking the test. Federal Way is still higher than the state average, with almost 30 percent last year passing their AP tests.

Washington's percentage of 12th-graders scoring a three or greater on the AP test rose from 10.5 percent in 2003 to 15.5 percent in 2008. The jump tied Washington with Oregon for fifth in the nation for increase in scores.

Washington currently ranks 17th in the nation for scoring a three or better on an AP test.

In the Federal Way School District, most of the cost of the exams is covered by the schools. In addition, several waivers were granted for students in need by the College Board, which administers the tests.

District officials said they are employing several methods to up the grades on the AP tests, including using the College Board SpringBoard Program, a preparatory program designed around the College Board Standards. The program is currently in place at Decatur High School as well as Saghalie, Totem, Illahee, Kilo and Sequoyah middle schools. The program runs from middle school to 10th grade, after which the students take the AP courses in their 11th or 12th grade years.

Advanced Placement courses vary from school to school. The classes, which range from biology, art, history, English and calculus among others, run year-long and culminate in a test. Students who receive a three or higher, on a one to five scale, generally can receive college credit for their work. The credit usually results in students gaining a 100-level college class on their transcripts. Higher scores can sometime result in more credit.

AP courses

Decatur High School offers biology, calculus, English Language and composition, English literature, environmental science, physics, government, U.S. history and world history.

Federal Way High Schools offers calculus, U.S. history, biology, world history, English, civics, statistics, chemistry and physics.

Todd Beamer High Schools offers Spanish, calculus, statistics, biology, chemistry, physics, government, world history, U.S. history.

Thomas Jefferson High School offers statistics and calculus.

All the schools offer several pre-AP classes as prep for the actual class.

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