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Catoctin’s number of AP tests increases

(9/4) Catoctin High School is one of three high schools in the county that have seen the number of advanced placement tests give more than double over the past four years.

“We have been on a steady increase,” said Principal Jack Newkirk. “Our focus is on how many kids we can give the experience of college work to in high school.”
With that focus, the number of AP tests given since 2004 has increased 120 percent. Only Brunswick High and Linganore High had greater increases.

However, with more students taking the tests, scores tend to drop and Catoctin is no exception. The percentage of students scoring a 3 or above (the minimum generally needed to receive college credit) has fallen from 52.3 percent in 2004 to 44.9 percent in 2008. This is the lowest percentage in the county. Urbana High had the highest percentage at 73.5 percent.

“Overall, I would like the percentage of 3 or above to be higher, sure, but I feel it’s a great thing with the growing number of kids taking the tests,” Newkirk said.
He said 21 percent of the students in the school took at least one AP test last school year.

Catoctin offers 10 AP courses. The AP Government course is in its second year and the AP World History for 10th graders is in its third year. Enrollment in this class has nearly doubled from 33 students to 62 students since its inception.

The school also has an AP Scholars program to recognize students who are challenging themselves by taking more AP courses.

“In our eyes, these are the kids we really want to challenge because the high school assessments won’t be difficult for them,” Newkirk said.

Students who take three tests in their high school career get a bronze medal. Those who take four or five tests get a silver medal and those who take six or more get a gold medal and their names on a plaque that hangs in the school. Newkirk said last year the school had four gold AP scholars and this year, there should be more than that because a number of seniors have already taken five tests and need only take one more to earn the gold.

An Overview of Catoctin High’s AP Results

                                2004   2005   2006    2007   2008

No. of tests taken  155     217     245      314    341
No. at or above 3    81      88      112      145    153

Source: Frederick County Board of Education

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