Troup County School System approves funding for AP scholarships

Published 11:00 am Saturday, September 21, 2019

By Alicia B. Hill

The Troup County Board of Education renewed its commitment to encouraging more students to take part in Advanced Placement classes and tests on Thursday, with a focus on ensuring students participating in AP programs reflect the diversity of the school system.

The Troup County School System has offered AP classes to students for more than a decade, but in recent years many students have opted for dual enrollment instead of AP classes.

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Superintendent Dr. Brian Shumate said he wants to see a wide variety of courses offered, and he said he hopes to see more students taking AP classes and AP tests in the future.

To encourage students to take part, the school system has made scholarships available to ensure that economically disadvantaged students will have access to the testing that may help set them apart on college applications.

“We want more and more kids to take these things,” Shumate said. “Of course, we want every course to be representative of the school in diverse populations and so forth. Then we get to the number of kids taking the AP test, which I am a believer in, even though a lot of kids don’t take the test because of dual enrollment. That is a bit of a conflict that we created ourselves.”

Dr. Penny Johnson, assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and professional learning, said the school system has made a concerted effort to improve the number of students participating in AP classes and taking AP tests since January 2018, and she provided the school board with an update on those efforts during its Monday work session.

During the 2018 school year, 567 students were enrolled in AP classes, and there has been a sharp rise since then with 687 students enrolled in AP classes in the 2020 school year. Johnson said she hopes the scholarships will help those numbers continue to rise, but she said it is also important that students and parents realize the benefits of AP courses versus dual enrollment when applying for college.

“What we’ve found is the research is suggesting that students need to be taking the most highly rigorous course of study that they can possibly handle, and we have found that by experience the dual enrollment cases are not as rigorous as the AP courses,” Johnson said. “Remember, credit is earned in a dual enrollment class just by completing the class, where the AP course credit is earned by passing a national exam.”

However, enrolling in the courses is only half of the equation, since the school system has seen many students taking the courses but skipping the AP test.

“Part of the focus is really focusing taking the AP exams,” said Kitty Crawford, director of exceptional education. “We have a lot of students who will take the class but aren’t interested in taking the exams.”

Good exam scores on the AP test are considered the equivalent of a course at most colleges.

The school system approved scholarships for AP tests at a cost not to exceed $30,550, and students will also continue to have access to state scholarships for the tests as well. The state pays for one STEM test regardless of need, and the state pays for one test in any subject for a reduced price of $53 for all other tests for those who qualify. The TCSS funding application allows assistance to students who qualify for low income status but are not covered by the state. The normal full price of taking an AP test is $94.

The school system has also worked to address other needs related to AP testing, including more resources, better training and coordination between teachers over AP classes.

The school system purchased $63,103 in books and resources for AP classes in fiscal year 2019, and $20,939 in books and resources were purchased for the program in fiscal year 2020. Johnson said those resources were supplemented by free resources online and older resources. However, she noted that there are limitations on which older resources can be used due to the course requirements.

Other items covered during the Troup County Board of Education meeting included:

  • 4 Kaleb Brooks, Kayla Butler, Charli Jackson and Jaslyn Thomas from the Ethel W. Kight Elementary School Drama Club provided an invocation and lead meeting attendees in the pledge of allegiance.
  • Sarah Gore, Taylor McCray, Avery Shead and Samuel Sykes, all of Ethel W. Kight Elementary School, were recognized for receiving advanced certifications.
  • Mitzi Norton of LaGrange High School, Whitney Ligon of exceptional education and Brandey Potter of Rosemont Elementary School were recognized for receiving Molly Lukken Scholarships.
  • Staff Sgt. Caleb M. Cannon, a U.S. Army recruiter, discussed the recruiting process and pre-qualifications to join the Army.
  • The school board approved the renewal of an annual contract with West Georgia RESA for the Youth Apprenticeship Program for $36,639.
  • The board approved the purchase of an adaptive software program from Imagine Learning, which cost $44,100.
  • The board approved funding to administer the ACT to all third-year high school students at an estimated cost of $35,040.
  • The board approved the purchase of a new intercom system for Troup County High School from ESS at a cost of $91,977.
  • The school board voted to renew its annual service agreement with Howard Technologies for the iBoss content filter for network security for $49,658.
  • The school board approved the agreement and authorized payment of architectural fees to Goodwyn Mills Caywood for $230,000 for the CVES and TCHS athletic facility projects.

The Troup County Board of Education will meet again at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 15 at 100 North Davis Road in LaGrange.