MHS makes top 2 percent for AP participation

May 23, 2011

Martinsville Bulletin

The Washington Post has ranked Martinsville High School among the top 2 percent of high schools in the nation for its high levels of student participation in college-level courses, according to a news release.

The Post’s Jay Mathews uses the Challenge Index formula to rank high schools by dividing the number of Advanced Placement (AP) or other college-level tests a school gave in 2010 by the number of graduating seniors. Martinsville High School was listed as 324th out of more than 1,900 schools that made the list for giving an average of 2.935 AP exams per graduate.

There are about 27,000 public high schools in the United States, according to The Post.

Last year, Mathews put MHS at number 624 out of 1,600 high schools on the list, which was published then in Newsweek magazine.

The rankings also include an “Equity and Excellence rate,” which denotes the percentage of all seniors who have earned a score on at least one AP exam that would qualify them for college credit (generally 3 or higher on a scale of 5).

Martinsville’s E&E rate is listed as 13.2 percent, according to the release.

“We have broken the barriers and given all students access to higher-level courses,” Superintendent Pam Heath said in the release. “The Equity and Excellence rate shows us that we have more work to do to make sure students excel in these courses, as we continue on a path of continuous school improvement.”

Some high schools have artificially inflated test scores by restricting enrollment to their top students, the release said. Martinsville High School allows any student who is up for the challenge to enroll in AP courses and experience college-level work.

Mathews stated on The Post’s website that even students who scored a 2 on the AP exam were shown to do better in college than similar students who did not take AP.

Martinsville Middle School began a pre-AP program this year, with advanced course offerings in core subjects to better prepare students for success in high school AP classes. Advanced students can now take Algebra I as early as the sixth grade.

This is the third year of Martinsville High School’s AP grant, which awarded $400,000 over five years to the school to help cover the cost of exams, weekend help sessions for students, teacher training, educational consultants and more. AP courses offered in 2010-11 include biology, chemistry, AB and BC calculus, statistics, English language, literature, government, and U.S. history.


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