Published: Wednesday, September 29, 2010, 5:30 AM
Crystal Bonvillian, The Huntsville Times
(Click here to read the original article on AL.com)
NEW MARKET, AL - There was celebration in the air at Buckhorn High School on Tuesday.
The school was the setting for the announcement that it is one of seven high schools in Huntsville and Madison County that have made huge leaps in their Advanced Placement scores for college credit in math, science and English.
Buckhorn and Hazel Green, Madison County and Sparkman high schools increased their passing scores on AP exams by 266 percent, the highest district increases in the state.
Three Huntsville schools, Columbia, Lee and Huntsville high, have increased their district's passing scores by 69 percent.
Those feats were accomplished in just a year's time, from the 2008-09 school year to the 2009-10 school year.
The 2009-10 year was the first year that both districts participated in the A+ College Ready program. The program, a division of the A+ Education Partnership, provides training, resources and incentives to help schools expand their AP programs.
"I think it's wonderful," Dr. Ann Roy Moore, superintendent of Huntsville City Schools, said about the increases. "As a system, we took a chance on this program. This took a huge investment from the system, and I'm really proud of the increases we see."
Dr. Terry Davis, superintendent of Madison County Schools, agreed.
"I am very excited about how our kids have done," Davis said as he watched students mill about in Buckhorn's gym. "This is what it's all about, right here."
Tommy Ledbetter, principal of Buckhorn, said his school's success is because of its participation in the program.
"I can personally attest to the impact this program has had on our school," Ledbetter said. "Before A+ College Ready, we had little to no AP success. This program has given the teachers the tools to be successful."
A+ College Ready was created in 2007. In its first year, it was used in 12 schools in Montgomery and Jefferson counties.
Last year, when Huntsville and Madison County got involved, it was used in 23 schools in five districts.
For the 2010-11 school year, it is in 43 schools in 17 districts, according to the program website. More schools are being considered.
Mary Boehm, president of A+ College Ready, said the program helps districts and their students improve their AP scores, but it also provides funding for AP courses to districts that otherwise do not have the resources.
Sandra Spivey, director of secondary education for Madison County Schools, said her district was on that list.
"We were ready for this," Spivey said. "We wanted to offer AP courses but, the bottom line is, it costs money."
In turn, the program brings AP courses to students who otherwise might not have the opportunity.
"People tend to think that AP is for the top 10 percent of students," Boehm said. "We're saying, 'Bust open the doors.' "